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Feb 13, 2020

Opinions - A fishy campaign against salmon

Mitch Daniels, a Post contributing columnist, is president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana.

What should one make of the following set of facts? A federal government, urged on by self-designated advocates for the “public interest,” blocks for a quarter of a century the availability of an irrefutably safe product that would improve Americans’ health, lower consumer costs and deliver a host of environmental benefits. Sound fishy? You’re right.

For about three decades, science has known how to genetically modify salmon so the fish can be safely and economically raised anywhere, not just in the seaside pens that have long been the only alternative to the continuing depletion of the world’s ocean stocks. Scientists worldwide have attested for over a decade, without credible opposition, to the safety of these fish and their essential indistinguishability from other salmon. But only in March last year was this long-stalled technology released from regulatory purgatory by the Food and Drug Administration and cleared for operation in the United States.

Consider the advantages we have been forgoing. Salmon is a healthy food, strongly recommended by the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic and, ironically, the federal government’s own nutritional guidelines for at least the past 20 years. Consumers aware of its heart-friendly qualities increasingly seek out salmon — consumption is rising rapidly, leading to overfishing of wild populations, and the knock-on overfishing of other species taken for the up to five pounds of fish meal necessary to grow one non-genetically engineered salmon in today’s coastal farms. (Some scientists believe the world’s natural supply has hit “peak fish,” with more than 90 percent of stocks having no capacity for more production.)  Read the article.

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