This week the FDA is holding public meetings regarding their review of genetically engineered salmon.  If approved for consumption this would be the first genetically engineered animal product to be introduced into our national food chain.  GMO’s are already in use in plant material, and currently there are no labeling requirements in the U.S. to allow consumers to tell which food products contain them.  If approved these genetically altered salmon would open the door to the other GMO meat products waiting in the wings, including EnviroPig, and a cow designed to resist Mad Cow disease.

It’s no secret that GMO’s are controversial, and there have already been problems and issues related to the altered plant products, including the uncontrollable spread of GMO crops and potential health threats.

GMO’s fall under the category of drugs according to FDA review guidelines and so this fish and any other GMO product seeking approval are reviewed by a panel of experts who normally review veterinary pharmaceuticals – not food safety issues.

All of this makes me very nervous.  I have my doubts about the rigour and accuracy of the FDA’s safety review processes, and I also am suspicious of the amount of influence that Big Food might have on their decision-making (I know it sounds paranoid, but that doesn’t really matter if it happens to be true).  The amount of money to be made from this technology, paired with the potential environmental and health effects make this a very potentially volatile topic.

Obviously I hope that the FDA does not approve this GMO fish for public consumption.  Further, I hope that if it does approve it that they at least require clear product labeling so that those of us how are made very nervous by GMO’s in our food can attempt to avoid them.  For now everything is up in the air.