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Target, Giant Eagle, H-E-B, Meijer say no to genetically engineered salmon

Posted May. 29, 2013 / Posted by: Adam Russell

As damning new study shows GE salmon can harm wild fish

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Campaign for Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood -- a coalition of more than 30 consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups led by Friends of the Earth -- announced that Target and other large mainstream grocery retailers across the United States have committed to not sell genetically engineered salmon if it is approved.   

These new store policies were released today by Greenpeace in its Carting Away the Oceans report, which assesses the sustainable seafood policies of U.S. retailers. 

Stores that will not sell genetically engineered salmon include Target, a national retailer that sells seafood in 1,394 stores; the H-E-B chain with 315 stores in Texas; Giant Eagle with 387 stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland; and Meijer, with 200 stores in Michigan, Indiana and other Rust Belt areas. These stores join 55 other food retailers that made similar commitments earlier this year, including Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Whole Foods, Marsh and Hy-Vee.

The total number of companies committed to not sell genetically engineered seafood now stands at 59 retailers representing 4,662 grocery stores across the country.

“There’s no room on our plates for genetically engineered seafood. Consumers don’t want it and price-competitive stores across middle America are refusing to sell it,” said Eric Hoffman food & technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “We applaud Target and all these retailers for listening to the vast majority of their customers who want sustainable seafood for their families,” Hoffman said. "We need to see more big retailers take this kind of initiative. We're hoping that Safeway, which has become a real leader in seafood sustainability in other ways, and other major grocery stores turn the corner here and pledge to stay away from genetically engineered salmon."

The market rejection of genetically engineered fish comes as the Food and Drug Administration conducts its final review of a genetically engineered salmon. More than 1.8 million people submitted comments to the FDA opposing the approval of what would be the first-ever genetically engineered animal approved by regulators for the human food supply. 

In related news today, a new peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, provides evidence that genetically engineered salmon can breed with wild trout and create offspring that grow even faster and can outcompete wild fish -- increasing concerns about environmental damage. 

The majority of Americans say they won’t eat genetically engineered seafood,(i) and 91 percent of Americans say the FDA should not allow it into the market.(ii) Eighty percent of Americans who regularly eat fish say that sustainable practices are "important" or "very important" to them.(iii)

“Simply put, this genetically engineered fish is a problem masquerading as a solution,” said Heather Whitehead, online campaigns director at Center for Food Safety. “It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the environment, and bad for our native salmon. Since these fish will likely not be labeled, consumers have to rely on retailers like these to reject unwanted and unnecessary GE fish. We will continue to pressure other retailers to side with consumers.”

The FDA said it will likely not label genetically engineered salmon, providing consumers no way of knowing if the fish they are feeding their families is genetically engineered. At least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish are currently under development, and the FDA’s decision on this genetically engineered salmon application will set a precedent for other genetically engineered fish and animals (including cows, chickens and pigs) to enter the global food market.(iv)

To avoid confusion in the marketplace and ensure sustainable seafood, a coalition of more than 30 groups led by Friends of the Earth are asking grocery stores, seafood restaurants, chefs and seafood companies to join the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood and publicly commit to not knowingly purchase or sell genetically engineered salmon or other genetically engineered seafood. 

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Contact:
Dana Perls, 510-978-4425, dperls@foe.org
Adam Russell, 202-222-0722, arussell@foe.org;
Stacy Malkan, 510-542-9224, stacydmalkan@gmail.com

NOTE: Stores named in this release have communicated their policies to not source or sell genetically engineered seafood in at least one of the following ways: by signing and returning the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood, direct email communication with Friends of the Earth, public statements or corporate policies, survey responses to Greenpeace’s annual Carting Away the Oceans report which was published today online at: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/cato/

*More on the health and environmental risks of genetically engineered salmon.

*More on the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood, including a directory of stores committed to not knowingly sourcing or selling genetically engineered seafood, can be found online at www.gefreeseafood.org.

*Grocery stores, restaurants and chefs can add their name to the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood by emailing gefreeseafood@foe.org.


i. Consumer Reports National Research Center, 11/11/2008 http://www.greenerchoices.org/pdf/foodpoll2008.pdf, 62% of all consumers and 77% of women said they would not buy genetically engineered meat products, page 4
ii. Lake Research Partners, Commissioned by Food and Water Watch, 9/20/10. “Americans in near unanimity on their disapproval of genetically engineered fish and meat in the marketplace.” http://www.saynotogmos.org/ud2010/docs/fish_survey.pdf
iii. Barclay, Eliza. “Most Americans Eager To Buy Seafood That’s ‘Sustainable.’” National Public Radio, 12 Feb. 2013. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/11/171743185/most-americans-eager-to-buy-seafood-thats-sustainable
iv. Genetically Engineered Fish. Center for Food Safety, Jan. 2013. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ge-salmon-fact-sheet.pdf 

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