‘Frankenfish’ far less scary than fast food

By Art Caplan [cross-posted from his NBCNews Vitals column]

Two big events recently took place in the world of food: The Food and Drug Administration decreed that genetically engineered salmon wouldn’t harm the environment and McDonald’s announced that its McRib sandwich is back on the menu.

The FDA’s announcement paves the way for the first approval of a genetically engineered animal for humans to eat – and it was met with a good deal of highly critical wailing and groaning by Consumer’s Union, National Geographic and many other advocacy groups who are wary of genetically engineered food.

The McRib’s return was greeted with a few snickers by late night comedians and overwhelmingly happy faces on the millions of Americans who eat at one of the 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants from Maine to Hawaii every day. This, as my grandmother would have said in Yiddish, is “fakakta”—completely screwy.

If you like salmon, and I do, should you worry much about the safety of eating genetically engineered salmon?  No. The FDA said it could not find any valid scientific reason to prohibit the sale of the fish.

If you like the McRib, and I do, should you worry a lot about eating it?  Oh yeah.

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