Where do you live? I live in Atlantic Canada. If you live here or anywhere along the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, you know how important salmon is to our way of life.
There has been a lot of debate over whether farmed or wild salmon is better for the environment, as well as which type of salmon falls into the healthy foods category. And then GMOs entered the picture and the debates grew even more heated. Why?
3 Reasons Salmon Rocks
First of all, let’s consider why salmon is in such high demand. There are 3 reasons in particular:
1. It is considered one of the top healthy foods. It is a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to healthy skin, hair, nails and cardiovascular system.
2. Salmon contains Selenium, which fights free radicals and also helps with the health of hair, skin and nails.
3. Eating salmon is one of the best ways to get Vitamin D, which many of us in North America are sorely lacking.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to salmon’s health benefits, but I want to focus more on the debate at hand: farmed vs. wild vs. GMO salmon.
Why Salmon Farms Exist and How GMOs Entered the Picture
Salmon farming, or aquaculture, is a big industry in New Brunswick. People who work at these farms are trying to fill a need.
Because of all of the health benefits, demand for it has grown exponentially over the years. Some reports claim that the demand has increased over 600 percent in the decade between 1990 and 2010.
Farmers of salmon also claim that the level of mercury in their fish is less than that in wild salmon. And, promoters of farming say that it protects Atlantic/Pacific salmon from being overfished.
So, salmon farming definitely serves a public demand, but what about GMO salmon?
The demand for salmon has grown so quickly that it’s been hard for salmon farmers to keep up. That’s when the scientists and their laboratories got involved.
According to The Guardian, farmed salmon has been modified by adding growth hormone genes from another type of salmon—the Chinook salmon—and a “promoter sequence gene” from an “eel-like ocean pout”. What does this accomplish?
Salmon that has been genetically modified can grow and mature twice as fast. Instead of being ready for human consumption after 3 years, GMO salmon are ready after about 18 months.
It is important to note that not all farm-raised salmon is GMO salmon, or “Frankenfish” as it’s become known. And, farming is an important and needed industry along the Atlantic because wild salmon isn’t readily available.
But GMO salmon – well, that’s a different story altogether.
4 Reasons Why People Are Concerned About GMO Salmon
Photo Credit: The Washington Post A genetically engineered salmon approved last year by the FDA grows twice as fast as a normal Atlantic salmon. (AquaBounty Technologies/AP)
Just a couple of months ago, GMO salmon was given the green light by the Canadian government to be sold in restaurants and stores. This means that GMO salmon is healthy, right? The government wouldn’t approve it for sale if it wasn’t…right?
When you look at the benefits of GMO salmon on paper, they look pretty great. But some people are upset (some in an uproar!) over the Canadian government’s approval of this type of salmon. Why?
1. The Canadian government doesn’t require GMO salmon to be labeled. This bothers a lot of people, and I am one of them. I think foods that aren’t 100 percent what they claim to be should be labeled. We should be able to make informed decisions.
The fact that a lot of GMO companies are paying millions of dollars to keep from labeling their foods makes me suspicious. If they have so much pride in their product and believe it’s healthy, why not label it?
2. What are the long-term effects? GMO foods haven’t been around for very long. So the fact that some governments are quick to say these foods are healthy has some people hot under the collar. There are a lot of products—like medications for example—that have good short-term effects, but then problems show up down the road. GMO foods haven’t had a chance to prove themselves in terms of long-term consequences.
3. Some people don’t like the idea of eating “Frankenfish”. Many people prefer all-natural foods, simple as that. Expecting salmon but getting a salmon/salmon/eel-type fish combo instead grosses them out.
4. Wild salmon is healthiest. In an interesting Infographic by Prevention magazine, claims are made that wild salmon has 32 percent fewer calories and half the fat of farmed salmon. In addition, wild salmon seems to have more protein, iron, potassium and zinc.
A recent blog post by Complete Health & Happiness shows that no less than 65 restaurants and stores are pledging not to sell the so-called Frankenfish. Who knows how many other restaurants and stores are refusing to sell them, or how many consumers are refusing to buy them.
Balance and Baby Steps—the Key to Making Lasting Dietary Changes
Now, you guys know me—I’m all about healthy living and healthy eating, but my motto is balance.
Yes, I think everyone needs to eat more greens, but that doesn’t mean I think everyone should switch over to a greens-only, vegan diet. Heck, I don’t even do that!
When it comes to healthy eating, I believe in baby steps as well as balance.
Am I comfortable with GMO foods? No, but I know that if we ever want to make lasting dietary changes, they have to be gradual.
Start out by doing your homework. There are plenty of bloggers and journalists out there who are committed to a healthy lifestyle and are ready to give you the facts.
Then, when you decide to add or remove certain foods from your diet, do it little by little. For instance, if you’ve decided to not support GMO salmon, cut it out and start making an effort to only purchase wild salmon.
By remaining balanced and utilizing baby steps, you can make the best choices and reach your healthy eating goals. And, to help you along the way, here is a fantastic, quick and delicious salmon recipe from the PaleOMG.com blog. Enjoy!
What do you think about GMO salmon being given the green light? Do you trust GMOs? Do you think we should consider them as healthy foods? Let me know. Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.