The two largest grocery stores in the United States, Kroger (NYSE: KR) and Safeway (NYSE: SWY), have made commitments to not sell GMO salmon. These stores join other leading supermarket chains -- now totaling over 9,000 stores nationwide -- that have already rejected the GMO salmon that is still under review by FDA.
Keith Dailey, director of media relations at Kroger, announced the decision:
“Should genetically engineered salmon be approved, Kroger has no intention of sourcing it,” Dailey wrote.
Kroger is the leading conventional grocery chain in the U.S. with 2,424 stores.
Safeway, the number two conventional grocer with 1,406 stores, confirmed their position over the weekend:
Should GE salmon come to market, we are not considering nor do we have any plans to carry GE salmon. The seafood products we offer will continue to be selected consistent with our Responsible Seafood Purchasing Policy, Responsible Sourcing Commitment and our partnership with FishWise."
By making commitments to not sell genetically engineered salmon, Kroger and Safeway have joined a large number of grocery chains, from Trader Joe’s to Target, that have chosen to listen to the majority of consumers who do not want to eat genetically engineered fish.
The total number of companies committed to not sell genetically engineered salmon now stands at more than 60 retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, H-E-B, Meijer, Hy-Vee, Marsh, Giant Eagle, and now Safeway and Kroger, representing more than 9,000 grocery stores across the country.
"This is good news, as FDA's human and environmental assessments of the safety of this genetically engineered fish are both seriously flawed,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist at Consumers Union, the public policy arm of Consumer Reports.
Nearly 2 million people -- including scientists, fishermen, business owners, and consumers -- have written to the FDA opposing the approval of genetically engineered salmon and in response to Aqua Bounty’s revised draft environmental assessment in 2013. Despite this outcry, the FDA is still considering approving GE salmon and has said it will likely not be labeled, so consumers will have no way of knowing if the fish they are feeding their families is genetically engineered. At least 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.
"Today's announcement by major grocery retailers makes it even more clear that there is no demand for GE salmon," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "It's time for the FDA to deny the application for this unsustainable and unnecessary new genetically engineered food."
Three quarters of Americans surveyed in a New York Times poll said they would not eat genetically engineered fish, and 93 percent wanted GMO foods to be labeled. Polls show that 80 percent of Americans who regularly eat fish say sustainable practices are "important" or "very important" to them.
The supermarket rejection of genetically engineered salmon is part of a growing trend of food companies distancing themselves from GMO foods. Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) is removing and labeling GMOs and Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) will require GMO foods in its stores to be labeled by 2018. Cereal giant General Mills (NYSE: GIS) recently removed GMO ingredients from Cheerios and Post (NYSE: POST) quickly followed suit, removing GMOs from Grape Nuts. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) and Gerber (OTN: NSRGY) have said they have no plans to buy the GMO apple that is pending approval by USDA.