GE Salmon Update: Co-op Upholds Pledge for GE-Free Seafood

The rejection of GE salmon is part of a growing trend of food companies distancing themselves from GE foods.

Consumers looking for genetically engineered (GE) salmon won’t find it at the Co-op.

In a statement released November 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it had approved AquAdvantage Salmon as the first genetically modified animal fit for human consumption—setting off a wave of concern from consumer-protection groups and food-industry watchdogs nationwide.

The salmon, dubbed ‘Frankenfish‘ by critics, is an Atlantic salmon genetically engineered to grow quickly, enough that it can reach market size 10 to 16 months earlier than its non-GE counterparts.

In a conference call with reporters, FDA officials said the administration wouldn’t require food made with the approved GE salmon to be labeled. Consumers who want to avoid it should choose wild-caught salmon instead, officials said.

Or they can shop at the Co-op.

“We won’t carry GE salmon,” said Bruce Follett, Co-op Director of Merchandising. “We signed a pledge not to carry it before it was even approved, and we’re sticking to it.”

In 2013, the Co-op signed the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood, promising our members and shoppers that we would not sell GE salmon under any circumstances, even if it were approved by the FDA. More than 60 U.S. grocers have also signed the pledge, representing thousands of stores nationwide. Signers include major grocery chains and numerous food co-ops across the country.

The Campaign for GE Seafood reports that nearly 2 million people—including scientists, fishermen, business owners, and consumers—wrote to the FDA to oppose the approval of GE salmon. The organization also reports that at least 35 species of other genetically engineered fish are in development.

The supermarket rejection of GE salmon is part of a growing trend of food companies distancing themselves from GE foods.

“Consumers deserve to know what type of food they’re buying—and an overwhelming majority has told us that they want genetically modified food labeled in poll after poll,” Michael Hansen, senior scientist with Consumers Union, wrote in a statement. “The decision to not require a GE label for this product takes away the consumer’s ability to make a truly informed choice.”

Other genetically modified animals awaiting approval include chickens, pigs, and cattle.

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis

Ken is a writer in the Co-op Outreach Department. Email him at kdavis@coopfoodstore.com.