Would Red Lobster or Joe's Crab Shack ever sell biotech seafood?

Anissa Ford's picture

It's that time of year (again) when aggressive biotech companies are urging USDA's approval of fake fish, specifically genetically modified salmon.

Nowhere is the threat to the American economy and aquaculture farming more evident than with the quest to clone seafood. The popularity of the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" has alerted well over 24 million people to the livelihood and dependency of sea farmers on sustainable fish and gaming.

Genetically modified apples and oranges are one thing, but genetically modified salmon/seafood is a whole other thing, particularly since the government does not require retailers to label its GMO products

There is some possibility that genetically engineered salmon won't get past the USDA again this year. After all, the feds haven't approved genetically modified animals for human consumption yet. For 13 years, companies have unsuccessfully sought USDA approval for genetically engineered salmon.

So maybe seafood chain restaurants don't feel a sense of urgency to take an immediate stand on the refusal to sell and serve genetically modified seafood if given the opportunity.The Center for Food Safety sent requests to food chains and grocery stores urging the retailers not to participate in the purchase or sell of GMO fish/seafood. For now, more than ten popular seafood chains aren't responding. While only a few big name grocers, Target, Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's have joined in the pledge to keep its shelves clear of genetically modified salmon or seafood.

The Center for Food Safety's latest list of stores that will not list their position on the sale of genetically modified seafood to its customers: (download PDF here).

Bahama Breeze
Bonefish Grill
Capitol Grille
Captain George's
Fish Camp
Joe's Crab Shack
King Crab Lounge
King's Fish House
Landry's Inc
Longhorn Steakhouse
Long John Silver's
Lou & Mickey's
Ocean Ave Seafood
Olive Garden
Outback Steakhouse
Red Lobster
The Water Grill

The Center for Food Safety urges consumers to sign the petition against GE salmon in the marketplace. US approval of genetically modified foods was underway in 1995 (without labeling requirements). But the feds have yet to approve genetically modified animals for the purpose of human consumption.

The USDA has deemed a certain biotech brand of salmon safe (2010), but has not approved what many call "frankenfish" for public market sale or purchase.

Without a federal labeling requirement for GMO foods, restaurants could substitute genetically modified fish for naturally raised and caught seafood. Like chickens raised on steroids to initiate faster growth, GMO salmon develops in 16-18 months versus the three years it takes regular salmon to mature.

The USDA recently approved "NON GMO" labeling on foods grown without genetic engineering. But the war between organic and GMO is a price war, and the label is another tax on whole food retailers rather than genetically modified food suppliers. Restaurants and delis can also participate in label verification. Label verification is a mission sponsored by the Non-GMO Project. So far (in cooperation with the Non GMO Project) Ben & Jerry's, Whole Foods, and Chipotle Mexican Grill voluntarily label menu items made with GMOs.

Here's a look at a few retail grocers that have not pledged to keep genetically engineered salmon or seafood off its shelves:

Brookshire Brothers
Brookshire Grocery Co.
C&S Wholesale Grocers
Central Grocers Cooperative
Costco Wholesale Corp
Delhaize America
Demoulas Market Basket
Fareway Stores
Grocers Supply Co.
Harris Teeter
Ingles Market
Inserra Supermarkets
King Kullen Grocery Co.
Kroger Co.
K-VA-T Food Stores
Nash Finch Co.
Price Chopper Supermarkets
Publix Supermarkets
Roundy's Supermarkets
Sam's Club
Save Mart Supermarkets
Schnuck Markets
Smart & Final
Spartan Stores
Stater Bros. Markets
Tops Markets
United Supermarkets
URM Stores
Village Super Market
Wakefern Food Coop
Walmart Stores
Weis Markets
WinCo Foods
Winn Dixie Stores
Woodman's Markets

Trident Seafood Corporation, Peter Pan Seafoods, Ocean Bounty Seafoods, Nestle/Lean Cuisine, Gortons Inc., and Bumblebee are a few seafood companies that have not taken a stand on whether or not they'd sell genetically modified seafood to consumers should the 2013 review of genetically modified salmon pass.