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GE Salmon

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block.

I will be on our farm in Illinois later in the week.  We haven’t harvested any corn or beans yet, but it is time to get started.  When I look out over our fields, I can’t help but think about the roller coaster ride it has been over the year.  Prices up, then down – surplus then shortage.  Here is a headline in the Wall Street Journal, November 28, 1980.  “Big income prices loom as world demands more food.”  That was almost 40 years ago.  The experts then were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to feed the people in future years.  But look what happened.  With all the new technology we have a global surplus.  Prices are down because we have too much food.  I don’t expect the world to run short of food.  If the market economy raises prices, we will find a way to produce more. 

With the time left I want to talk about bio-engineered salmon.  GE Salmon should be coming to market soon.  It has taken 20 years for AquaBounty, a small company, to put it’s GE Salmon on the market.  The Food and Drug Administration ruled in 2015 that the fish is “safe to eat” and there is no nutritional difference between GM and Conventional Salmon.  GE Salmon can grow twice as fast and consumes less food than Atlantic Salmon.  90 percent of Salmon consumed in the US is imported.  We need some farm raised GE Salmon.

It took AquaBounty 3 years to get labeling approval.  Alaskan Senator Murkowski would like to force more delay.  She says GE Salmon is an unhealthy Frankenfish.  I think Members of Congress should respect the finding – that FDA Canada has already approved GE Salmon, but we can’t get our act together.  I guess I’m not surprised.  The Congress can’t get anything done.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to

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