In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration declared GMO salmon safe for consumption. At the time, Congress was debating if and how to label all genetically modified foods, so the FDA put a halt on the import of the fish until labeling issues could be worked out. Last year, the USDA announced that it had finalized food labels for genetically engineered foods. The agency settled on the phrase bioengineered for the labels, even though the public is accustomed to the term GMO.
On March 8, the FDA opened the door for the import of GMO salmon, reports Politico. The genetically engineered fish — the first genetically engineered animal the FDA has approved — will fall under the same bioengineered label as other GMO foods, satisfying the debate on how it should be labeled in the government agency's eyes.
The label will show up on GMO salmon, or any other GMO food, in one of three ways: by a symbol on the packaging, text on the packaging that says "bioengineered food" or "contains a bioengineered food ingredient," or a QR code or phone number to text that invites consumers to get more information.
Will stores carry GMO salmon?
Politico says the salmon could be on store shelves as early as 2020. Back in 2013, before the FDA approved GMO salmon as safe for consumption, many grocery chains pledged not to carry the bioengineered fish, which is created exclusively by the AquaBounty technology company.
Major chains including Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger, Aldi and Target promised there would be no GMO salmon sold in their stores. Many smaller chains also made the same pledge. In total about 60 retailers, with over 4,660 stores combined, said that if the FDA approved GMO salmon, consumers could be confident that it wouldn't be in their stores.
Those promises were made back in 2013, and retailers have not yet made any public response to the FDA announcement. Now that the salmon will soon be available, will these companies keep their promises?