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Fears Over “Frankenfish”

Posted at: 03/21/2013 6:46 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The federal Food and Drug Administration is currently considering allowing a genetically modified species of salmon on the market.

And unlike the ones you find in the wild, these fish are engineered to grow twice as fast.

The FDA released a preliminary report saying the new breed of fish would have no negative impact on the environment or on public health, and supporters say you can't tell the difference.
    
But opponents still argue it may not be safe, and there's no telling what would happen if the fish somehow made it into the wild.

“We don't believe that the market is looking for genetically engineered salmon,” said Liz Haywood, manager of People’s Food Co-op in Rochester. “We don't carry it and don't intend to carry it."

The People's Co-op is just one of thousands of stores, including several major retailers like Aldi and Trader Joe’s, that say they have no plans to put the product on their shelves.

Opponents maintain there's just not enough research on the long-term effects such products could have on a person's health.

“I don't know if anybody knows what it does to us and that's my big concern,” said Judy Kaczmarek. “We just keep throwing our hands up in the air and we've got more cancer and illness and nobody knows what the connection is."

And while the company that produces the salmon says the fish would be raised in secure tanks, others are still concerned about potential damage to the environment.

“We don't just want to have one kind of fish right now and then it’s gone because we've ruined the environment in order to raise that fish,” Haywood said.

Opponents said if the fish were to be cleared by the FDA, labeling the product as “genetically modified” would be critical to make sure consumers are aware of exactly what goes into the foods they're eating.

“If they choose certified organic foods they're going to be able to know they're avoiding that,” Haywood said. “But without that currently in the marketplace it’s hard to avoid it because you don't know."

While the FDA has already deemed the altered salmon safe for consumption, the agency is still taking public input on the matter.

But unless any drastic measures are taken to prevent it, the genetically altered fish could reach store shelves by the end of the year.