The Center for Food Safety in Washington, DC and the Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Co-operative Union of Japan spoke out this week in joint opposition to the commercialization of genetically engineered salmon.
The Aquabounty product, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, is the first ever genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption, and many concerns remain over risks to human and environmental health, they said.
Collectively the two organizations represent more than one million members on both sides of the Pacific. Center for Food Safety experts were recently in Japan to discuss the need for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food and the harms of increased pesticide use on GE crops.
Koichi Kato, president of the Japanese co-operative, said that the SCCCU is determined to urge the Japanese government not to approve such GE fish, and that their co-op will never sell such salmon.
“If the Japanese government also approves GE salmon, it will be labeled as GE when sold at grocery stores,” Kato said. “The GE salmon is sure to get a cold reception.”
On the other hand, he said, restaurants and most processed foods are exempted from Japanese GE food labeling law, and he is concerned that people would be forced to eat GE salmon without noticing that it is genetically engineered.
“FDA’s decision to approve this GE salmon was irresponsible and unlawful, and it will have global repercussions,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “Together we will work to stop its expansion in order to preserve our native fisheries and protect the markets so many depend on around the world.”
Public opposition to the FDA’s approval of the fish being produced by AquaBounty is mounting and some major retailers, including Costco, have already said they will not be selling this fish in their stores. Meanwhile environmental groups in Canada have sued that country’s government for allowing the genetically engineered salmon eggs to be produced there, potentially putting ecosystems and species such as wild salmon at risk.