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June 27, 2010

Genetically altered salmon: it's what could be for dinner

salmonSome scary food news in The New York Times this weekend.

"The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate," the story says.

If the salmon is approved, there is no guarantee that it would be labeled as genetically engineered; genetically engineered crops are not identified as such, the paper notes.

Nor is there any guarantee that the genetically modified salmon wouldn't mess with the wild stuff.

"Some experts have speculated that fast-growing fish could out-compete wild fish for food or mates," the paper said. A rep for the company developing the fish tells The Times that "the salmon would be grown only in inland tanks or other contained facilities, not in ocean pens where they might escape into the wild. And the fish would all be female and sterile, making it impossible for them to mate."

Haven't they seen "Jurassic Park"? Life finds a way. And not just in the movies.

Baltimore's own Dr. Joshua Sharfstein may have a hand in what happens. The former city health commissioner is deputy commissioner of the F.D.A. He's quoted in the story saying they're looking at labeling and going to keep the public informed on the whole thing.

So c'mon, Doc. Do the right thing. As a local guy, you must know we've already had our fill of Frankenfish.

Detroit Free Press photo

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 3:09 PM | | Comments (7)


I certainly hope that this item was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. If not, please look up the word "luddite"; it applies.

Oh Lord. Food Inc. the sequel, but worse.

I just wrote this letter to the FDA and suggest that you all do the same: Here is the Email address of the director of the FDA:
"Stephen Sundlof"

There is more information here:

Dear Dr. Sundlof:

Do your job and protect the public from the decimation of natural food
sources by genetically-engineered species. The fact that profit would
take such precedence over ecological systems, with probably disastrous
effects, shows that our nation is losing its will to live.

You already know that these fish will end up escaping and
breeding with the wild population. The sterile ones will reduce wild
populations by consuming breeding opportunities, while any that are
(or mutate to being) not truly sterile will crowd out natural

At a certain point you have to say no to this, no matter what
pressures are being brought to bear upon the agency.


Hmmmm..... Let's see, the UN and FAO both say the oceans will be virtually extinct by 2040. So no fish at all for fish lovers within both our lifetimes. Don't we have a moral obligation to use every tool at our disposal to help feed folks the fish they want? Maybe it's just because I'm the mother of boys who are more interested in how things work than how pretty they may be, but weighing between extinct oceans and inserting a different salmon gene into a salmon, I'll go with the latter. Come to think of it -- everyone write Dr. Sharfstein and Dr. Sundlohf and the head of NOAA and say "please, folks, full speed ahead with this new salmon!"

Wow. Could you please science/regulatory writing to the folks that understand those issues and restaurant writing to the food critics? This piece is off base in too many ways to count. Bring on the fast-growing salmon, help save wild fish, diminish seafood carbon footprint of flying in fresh fish (bc salmon can be grown inland. What's not to like here? I'm with 4BoyzzzMom -- write the guvmint and tell them to approve quick fast.

Sorry--I'm totally against this, no matter what these newcomers have to say.

Too appropriate Captcha: was caviare

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
Thanks for the link LV... What's all this about HEALTHIER BACON?! Don't make me dust off my activist shoes, because that's where I draw the line. Leave bacon alone!

You're right! I totally overlooked that angle. That should draw more neo-Luddites to the cause! LV

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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