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A coalition of consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups has kicked off its Campaign for Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood by revealing that several major grocery players representing more than 2,000 stores across the United States have already pledged not to sell genetically engineered seafood if it’s allowed onto the market.
The action comes as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) conducts its final review of a genetically engineered salmon. If approved, the salmon would be the first-ever genetically engineered animal permitted to enter the human food supply.
Among the national retailers that have made the commitment not to offer genetically engineered seafood are Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s, with 367 stores; Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi, with 1,230 stores; and Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market, with 346 U.S. stores, along with such regional chains as Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets, with 93 stores in Indiana and Ohio; and PCC Natural Markets, with nine stores in Washington state; and co-ops in Minnesota, New York, California and Kansas.
“We won’t sell genetically engineered fish because we don’t believe it is sustainable or healthy,” explained Trudy Bialic from PCC. “It is troubling that the FDA is recommending approval of AquaBounty’s salmon as a ‘new animal drug,’ subjecting these engineered creatures to less rigorous safety standards than food additives. That’s not a credible safety assessment.”
What’s more, the majority of American consumers say they won’t eat genetically engineered seafood, and 91 percent say the FDA shouldn’t allow it onto the market, according to a poll conducted by Lake Research.
As the FDA has said it will likely not label genetically engineered salmon, providing consumers no way to know whether the fish they purchase is genetically engineered, the coalition of 30 groups, led by advocacy group Friends of the Earth and also including the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Consumers Union and Healthy Child Healthy World, is asking grocery stores, seafood restaurants, chefs and seafood companies to join the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood and publicly commit not to knowingly purchase or sell genetically engineered salmon or other genetically engineered seafood. The pledge is another way for food retailers to let their customers know about their purchasing policies.
The retailers listed above have communicated their policies not to source or sell genetically engineered seafood by signing and returning the pledge, via direct e-mail communication with Friends of the Earth, or through public statements or public corporate policies.
At least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish are currently under development, and the FDA’s decision on the genetically engineered salmon application could set a precedent for other genetically engineered fish and animals to enter the global food market, the coalition noted.
Grocery stores, restaurants and chefs can add their names to the pledge by e-mailing [email protected].