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Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s Say No to GMO Seafood

Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other grocery retailers representing more than 2,000 stores across the US have pledged to not sell genetically engineered seafood if it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Campaign for Genetically Engineered-Free Seafood, launched yesterday by a coalition led by Friends of the Earth, comes as the FDA conducts its final review of AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon produced by AquaBounty Technologies of Maynard, Mass. If approved, the salmon would be the first-ever genetically engineered animal allowed to enter the US human food supply.

The FDA has not determined whether it will require labeling on genetically engineered salmon.

Stores that have committed to not sell the salmon or other genetically engineered seafood include national retailers Trader Joe’s (367 stores), Aldi (1,230 stores) and Whole Foods (346 stores); regional chains such as Marsh Supermarkets (93 stores in Indiana and Ohio) and PCC Natural Markets (9 stores in Washington state); and co-ops in Minnesota, New York, California and Kansas.

Eric Hoffman, food and technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth, called on other food retailers including Walmart, Costco and Safeway to follow suit and not sell genetically engineered seafood.

According to the Center for Food Safety, at least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish are currently under development. It says the FDA’s decision on AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon application will set a precedent for other genetically engineered fish and animals (including cows, chickens and pigs) to enter the food market.

A 2010 Lake Research poll found 91 percent of Americans say the FDA should not allow genetically engineered seafood onto the market. A 3013 NPR poll found 80 percent of Americans who regularly eat fish say that sustainable practices are “important” or “very important.”

The coalition — 30 groups including the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Consumers Union and Healthy Child Healthy World — are asking other grocery stores, seafood restaurants, chefs and seafood companies to join the Pledge for GE-Free Seafood and publicly commit to not knowingly purchasing or selling genetically engineered salmon or other genetically engineered seafood.

Earlier this month, Whole Foods announced all products sold at its stores containing genetically modified organisms will be clearly labeled by 2018. This makes the company the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for what it terms “full GMO transparency.”

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