Public hearings scheduled for this week by the Food and Drug Administration are expected to make a small splash in what appears to be pending approval for the AquAdvantage salmon — an Atlantic salmon that's been modified with genes from the faster-growing Pacific species and another fish.
The milestone event is important because the fish is the first genetically modified protein ever to be considered for human consumption. That the FDA's review of the science behind the AquAdvantage salmon is positive indicates the fish could end up in stores. The FDA found the gene insertions created no discernible differences from a regular Atlantic salmon, and that omega-3 and -6 levels — two beneficial nutrients found in salmon — were not affected.
Still, opposition from whole health stakeholders is expected to be vocal. Critics say some scientists have found that transgenic salmon may be more disease prone than fish currently grown in aquaculture.
At the very least, opponents plan to push for labeling of the AquAdvantage salmon in order to give consumers a choice. The FDA, so far, is undecided on the merits of labeling.
“Consumers have a right to know what they're eating, but it appears they may be left in the dark,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for National Cooperative Grocers Association.