Environment | Health | Opinion

Tom Colicchio: Let consumers make choices about genetic foods

The Squaxin Island Tribe of Washington honors wild salmon during the First Salmon Ceremony. Photo from Northwest Treaty Tribes / Facebook

Congress should let consumers have a right to know what's in their food, restaurant owner and chef Tom Colicchio argues:
Last month the Food and Drug Administration approved for sale to the public the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption — a fish they are calling the AquAdvantage salmon.

This “super” salmon was conceived by combining genes from Chinook salmon that produce extra growth hormone with an “antifreeze” gene from a bottom-feeder, the non-Kosher ocean pout. The result is a fish that grows far faster and larger than non-engineered salmon.

The F.D.A. insists the transgenic fish is safe for humans, but many experts believe they have yet to prove AquAdvantage will be safe for the environment or other fish. Factory fish farms depend on the use of antibiotics and pesticides to control disease and parasites that flourish in high-density environments. The waste they release can decimate other marine life and contaminate the water supply. Farmed fish often escape into larger waters, endangering native species. While these new salmon will be sterile, mistakes can happen.

Fine, you say. Enough already. If you don’t like the Frankenfish, don’t buy it.

But there’s the rub. This new engineered fish could be marketed as … Atlantic salmon. There might be no way for consumers to identify it as genetically engineered.

Get the Story:
Tom Colicchio: Are You Eating Frankenfish? (The New York Times 12/15)

Related Stories:
Quinault Nation slams approval of genetically modified salmon (11/23)
FDA won't require special label for genetically modified salmon (11/20)
Lawmakers raise tribal concerns in genetic foods controversy (08/06)
FDA holds public hearing on plan for genetically modified salmon (9/21)

Join the Conversation