Groups urge Costco not to sell GMO salmon

Food safety advocates are urging Costco to stop selling genetically modified salmon.

Friends of the Earth, which is spearheading the anti-engineered salmon campaign withCommunity Alliance for Global Justice and Food and Water Watch, delivered a petition with 50,0000 signatures to Costco Wholesale, a Washington-based discount grocer, on Saturday.

Though the retailer has said it has not sold any GMO salmon and at this time has no plans to do so in the future, Friends of the Earth said it has yet to release an official company policy.

Stores including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Kroger have agreed to stop selling genetically modified fish. Whole Foods has its commitment a step further with plans to label all food products in its U.S. and Canadian stores to indicate whether they contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) by 2018.

The food and Drug Administration is currently working to determine whether AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon developed by the Maryland-based AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., is as safe to eat as farmed, conventionally bred Atlantic salmon.

AquAdvantage salmon is genetically engineered to grow more quickly than its conventional counterpart. 

Friends of the Earth said 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.

“50,000 of Costco’s customers have asked it to not carry GMO salmon, even if approved by the FDA, and we want to confirm its dedication to sustainable seafood,” Dana Perls, a Friends of the Earth food and technology campaigner, said in a news release. “Costco has told its customers it has no plans to sell GMO salmon -- now the question is, will Costco publicly confirm this policy and join its competitors or will it be known as the ‘GMO Salmon store’?”

Costco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.