Genetically Modified Salmon May Surface Soon In The Marketplace

(CBS) — Everyone is encouraged to eat salmon because of its health benefits, but a change could be coming that makes some people uncomfortable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may soon approve a genetically modified salmon.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports.

The salmon we buy in the future could be genetically modified to be bigger and grow faster.

The producer, AquaBounty, says the larger salmon have genes from a chinook and the eel-like ocean pout. The FDA is expected to approve the new form of salmon, saying it’s as safe as other fish.

“It probably would not be labeled and so people would have no idea at the store whether they were getting engineered fish or not,” says Dr. Michael Hanson of Consumers Union.

The FDA requires labeling in some cases, such as soybeans. Corn has been bioengineered for years and corn or corn products are never labeled.

Salmon would be the first bioengineered animal for our dinner table. That is why critics say the FDA should require labeling so that consumers know exactly what they’re eating.

The FDA supports voluntary labeling, but would consumers even buy fish labeled as bioengineered?

“Our research and the research of others show that if a product has that label consumers are less likely to buy it,” says William Hallman of the Rutgers University Food Policy Institute.

Consumers Bailey polled seemed wary. But supporters say the modified fish has its advantages and could result in more cheaply priced food.

“We can produce twice as many fish per unit at a time,” William Muir of Purdue says. “It’s just as nutritious and just as good as regular salmon.”

Critics have raised concerns that the new fish could cause allergic reactions in some people. Others worry that if the fish escaped from farms they could destroy the wild salmon populations.

A decision by the FDA on whether to approve the fish is expected soon.

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