Kroger and Safeway, two of the nation’s largest grocery store chains, have joined the growing list of companies pledging not to carry genetically engineered (GE) salmon if it receives approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to consumer group Friends of the Earth. Kroger, with almost 2,500 stores nationwide, and Safeway, which operates almost 1,500 stores, push the total number of grocery stores saying no to GE salmon to 9,000.
“By making commitments to not sell genetically engineered salmon, Kroger and Safeway have joined the large number of grocery chains, from Trader Joe’s to Target, that have wisely chosen to listen to the majority of consumers who do not want to eat genetically engineered fish,” said Dana Perls, food and technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “Now Costco, Walmart, Albertsons and other retailers need to catch up and provide their customers with what they want: natural, sustainable seafood that isn’t genetically engineered in a lab.”
AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, MA has created a GE salmon, called AquAdvantage Salmon, that can reach market size twice as fast as normal salmon, saving time and resources, the company says. Before it can be sold and become the first GE animal approved for human consumption in the U.S., it needs approval from the FDA. But consumer groups have voiced concerns.
Roughly two million farmed salmon escape from their pens each year, heading our to sea where they compete with wild populations. What would happen if an AuaAdvantage Salmon escaped its enclosure? AquaBounty says the fish are sterile, but the FDA’s draft Environmental Assessment estimates that up to 5 percent of the fish could be fertile.
What’s more, if the fish is approved, the FDA would likely not require it to be labeled leaving consumers with no way of knowing if the fish they are buying is natural or engineered.
Safeway and Kroger join dozens of retailers pledging not to carry the fish if it is approved. The others include: Target, Aldi, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Hy-Vee, Meijer, H-E-B, Marsh and Giant Eagle.