Earlier this week, California's Assembly Health Committee approved a bill requiring all genetically modified fish sold in the state of California to be blatantly labeled as such. The decision comes as a result of the FDA's review of genetically modified salmon, which would be the first-ever GM animal flesh deregulated and commercially sold for human consumption.
The FDA has not elected to require GM fish to be labeled. According to Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director of the Center for Food Safety, who co-sponsored the bill along with Assembly member Jarded Huffman, “As such, it is incumbent on the California State legislature, starting with the Health Committee, to let the people of California make informed choices about the food they eat by requiring the labeling of GE fish sold in California.”
Public outcry over the number of GM seeds—and now fish—entering the food supply has been largely disregarded by government regulatory agencies including the FDA and USDA. The Center for Food Safety spearheaded a coalition of community groups from the environmental to religious, in a rather urgent plea with the FDA to deny the approval of the AquaBounty GM salmon, and to require the clear labeling if it was approved. The agency received close to 400,000 public comments from concerned consumers.
Spector says that labeling of GM fish is necessary: “Until FDA completes an adequate environmental and human health review of genetically engineered salmon, it is up to individual states to protect consumers and their families."
Although preliminary safety testing is required on all GM foods, the long term effects are still unknown. A recent report linked the consumption of GM plant foods to a number of detrimental effects to vital organs in rats.
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Photo: Andrea Pokrzywinski