Before you fire up those grills for Superbowl Sunday, consider what you will be cooking? How about some fast-growing salmon or omega-3 pork chops. According to the Los Angeles Times, the FDA has approved methods for selling genetically engineered fish and meat. Author, Jill Adams, explains, "The [FDA] has decided to categorize genetically engineered farm animals, also called transgenic animals, as an animal drug...and will be held to the same requirements already existing for conventionally bred animals treated with hormones or antibiotics.''
Lets take a look at how these animals are genetically engineered. Adams writes, "an extra pieces of genetic material (DNA) is inserted into the animal's genome at the earliest stages of development. Sometimes the method involves manipulating a fertilized egg that is then implanted into the surrogate mother; other times, it alters a cell from which an animal will be clones." Sounds like humans are playing with nature again.
Holding DNA modified animals to the same requirements as animals treated with hormones and antibiotics concerns many, like Gregory Jaffe, who works for the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Jaffe explains, "Genes are not the same as drugs. Drugs may have long-lasting effects on an individual, but they wouldn't get passed on to future generations. In the case of biotech animals, however, you're altering the DNA of that animal, which gets carried on to its offspring."
The FDA is also not required to label when food comes from genetically engineered animals. Without clear labeling, many may soon be feeding their families manipulated animals. Nauseous yet?
I have a few questions? Please feel free to comment and add to my answers...
Why are animals being genetically engineered? By eating a balanced diet, one can attain all the nutrition needed, without relying on omega-3 bacon for breakfast. Perhaps, companies such as Aqua Bounty (responsible for injecting salmon with the fast growth hormone) see this as a profitable business move. By speeding up the long time it takes salmon to mature, fish "manufacturers" can sell more fish, faster.
So how do we stop this? Speak with your dollar. By buying less meat, we send a strong message to meat producers. Lets speak up! Email email@example.com asking them to cover the issue again, but this time to consider the negative impacts of genetically engineered anmial based protien. And, If you must eat meat, trying buying local, organic, grass-fed meat or wild fish.
What are the negative impacts of genetically engineered animals? The Center for Food Safety explain, "a number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can post serious health risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment."
In terms of human health, The Center for Food Safety claim, "effects include higher risk of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer."
And what about the environment? The Center for Food Safety claims, "A 2001 National Academy of Sciences report states that the release of genetically engineered fish into the environment may threaten the survival of wild species." Additionally, The Center for Food Safety adds that we have seen that, "the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material."
So, for this Superbowl Sunday, lets rethink the menu!