A Big Fake Fish Is Swimming Our Way. Whole Foods, Aldi and Trader Joe's Say "No Thanks."

We're gonna need a bigger plate.
The biotechnology firm AquaBounty has spent years working on a genetically enhanced salmon that grows faster and bigger. USA Today reported the company has spent more than $67 million since 1991 trying to get this Chinook salmon spliced with DNA from a fast growing eel-like fish to market.

Eating genetically engineered (GE) food is pretty ubiquitous these days, but as we've previously reported, this "frankenfish" would be the first GE altered animal allowed for human consumption. If that doesn't sound appetizing, maybe you're thinking, well, I just won't eat that. Here's the problem, though: You won't know it, because federal law doesn't mandate GE fish to be labeled as such.

With the FDA expected to officially greenlight the fish after the April 26 public comment period ends, retailers are the last line of defense. The Campaign for Genetically Engineered-Free Seafood announced that Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Aldi have all vowed to keep the fish out of their stores.

Just Label It, a group committed to proper labeling of food, points to the lack of a long-term study on the safety of eating GE salmon and their potential environmental impact.

The Mud Flats, "News and Politics from the Upper Left Corner" (Alaska) gives a more meaningful local business view of the issue. Jeanne Devon recently wrote:

"The good news is there's actually an issue that Alaskans agree on -- Red ones, Blue ones, and Tea-colored ones. And it is this: Tinkering with the genetic code of life, creating an animal that has never existed in nature, not telling people what it is, and selling it in direct competition with Alaska's wild salmon is a really, really bad idea."
Eric Hoffman, food & technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth, is now calling on other major retailers like Walmart, Costco and Safeway to follow suit and also refuse to sell the fish.

Can you imagine the $67 million fit that will be thrown in a conference room at AquaBounty if Walmart and Costco flush their fish down the drain? People would buy tickets to watch that.

Jon at TJ's comments in 3, 2, 1 ...

OK, I'll do it for him: Buy your fish from businesses that can tell you exactly how long ago your fish was swimming in the water and which flight it came in on. Naturally, they'll also be able to tell you if it's a natural fish or a lab-created marriage of an eel-like fish and salmon.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Here's a question: where are they farming the engineered fish? Are they in fully segregated ponds inland, or are they in pens in natural waterways, where their genetic material may end up mingling with native salmon populations, so that engineered fish start showing up in the wild? May not seem like an important question, but penned salmon is already a danger for natural fish populations due to the parasitic infections they can harbor.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I'm afraid to give the cats a GMO pet food.  They might start barking.



TJ's has already made a public promise never to sell GMO fish. We disagree with the methods and the lack of labelling is criminal.

Having said that, I get the intent, even if i disagree with the methods. A lot of our farm raised salmon requires more fish protein in feed than it creates to eat, meaning its having a net-negative effect on overfishing.  There likely are some sincere people in the frankenfish business who are trying to fix that fundamental problem.

And the ol slipper slope gets quite slick when you think about it. 

God didn't create mules or broccoflower. 

Or tap water for that matter. 

Man did by tinkering.  We've been manipulating animals and produce and natural substances for centuries to better serve our purposes.  Its only in the last decade that we've broadly begun to look at all of our "progress" with a critical eye.

If they can create a salmon-eel monster that grows faster, eats less feed, tastes like bluefin tuna and cures restless leg syndrome, maybe people want will want it. Not me, and probably not TJ's customers, but maybe others?


Unless you can create new animals the "natural way" (locking different species in a bedroom with a red light bulb, a bottle of prosseco and an R. Kelly cd), TJ's isn't interested.

Oh yeah, and  buy your fish from businesses that can tell you exactly how long ago your fish was swimming in the water and which flight it came in on. Naturally, they'll also be able to tell you if it's a natural fish or a lab-created marriage of an eel-like fish and salmon. 

Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

LDD... Thomas Barton is on the BOD of AquaBountry. He's 2 miles from your office.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Frozen fish at Aldi's and Joe's are pumped up with water.  Try it.  It becomes the amazing shrinking filet.

Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Aldi's owns Trader Joe's thru a trust is why. Same fish.

Aldi's is the "German" store and Trader Joes's is the ""Americanized" store.


@Sharon_Moreanus. The owner of Trader Joe's was the brother of the owner of Aldi's.

When the Trader Joe's owner died about two years ago, Trader Joe's went to his brother, the owner of Aldi's.

Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

@Twinwillow. Yup.... that's why it's in a trust.

Now Trending

From the Vault