The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved genetically modified salmon for consumption in the U.S. It should take about two years for these fish to reach grocery stores. When it does, the fish will not be labeled as GMO because it is deemed by the FDA to be “nutritionally equivalent” to farm-raised salmon.
Of course, GMO salmon must be farmed so they do not breed with wild salmon, and farmed salmon have many of the same problems as farm-raised beef. Their unnatural diets and lifestyles affect the quality of the meat, especially the essential fatty acid balance and the amount of toxins.
But I am not assuming those are going to be the only problems with GMO fish, despite what the FDA says. They often reverse their advice many years later, when more evidence comes in. It took decades for the FDA to reverse themselves on hormone replacement therapy — they used to recommend it to ease the symptoms of menopause but then found it caused breast cancer.
But the problems with GMOs may take several generations to show up. We simply do not know the effects on our own genetic makeup of eating these altered foods. Removing DNA from one animal and inserting it into another to speed up its growth sounds like one of these shortcuts that helps in the short term but will have a very steep price eventually.
It likely will take many years for this to be obvious, until enough people eat GMO salmon for long enough for the effects to really start to show. I don’t plan on being one of the people involved in that experiment.
I’m not saying genetic manipulation is all bad, just that there are likely to be unintended consequences. Take modern wheat, for example. While wheat is not a true GMO crop, it was extensively and unnaturally hybridized — including with non-wheat plants — to produce certain effects. And it was very successful; the current wheat used can yield up to eight times more per acre than the previous strains.
But there are problems. This type of plant manipulation creates proteins in the offspring that are completely new. There is no way to know the long-term effects of these new proteins on our population except to observe the health of the people who eat them.
One of the first dietary recommendations I make for patients with digestive problems is to stop eating wheat, and many notice a marked improvement with this simple change. I have seen other problems improve as well when wheat is removed from the diet, including joint and muscle aches, headaches, even depression.
I started on this path when my own health problems, including sleep apnea, were resolved when I stopped eating wheat. Other wheat-sensitive people have found that the older versions of wheat — which were not hybridized in the same way — do not produce the same reactions.
From a wellness perspective, I plan to avoid GMO foods. We are told they are fine to eat, but the production of these foods violates the basic wellness principles I was taught and that have served me very well. If you want to stay healthy, stick to the healthiest foods, which means the least processed, naturally raised choices. It is best to avoid foods raised on chemicals, unnatural feeds or other methods used to speed up production or lower costs.
Dr. Michael Noonan practices chiropractic, chiropractic acupuncture and other wellness therapies in Old Town. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.