Will Chefs Serve GM Salmon?

grilled salmonWill chefs at your better restaurants serve the genetically-modified salmon that is very likely soon to be approved by the FDA and that will likely be available for purchase by 2010? Interesting question!

For a hint at the answer, see this story by Laura Canter at Food & Drink Digital: Chefs weigh in on genetically modified salmon.

I have to admit, if I were a chef, I’d be hesitant too — but not for ethical reasons. I’m not a chef, and I’ll be among the first to buy GM salmon if & when it becomes available — assuming it is offered at a good price. But if I were a chef, I’d be hesitant simply because many of my customers are going to be hesitant about eating GM fish.

But it’s interesting to read the reasons given by professional chefs. For instance:

“It goes against my principles,” said Andy Arndt, executive chef of Aquariva Restaurant in Portland, Ore. He argued that the practice of genetically engineering fish wouldn’t be necessary if fisheries were better regulated.

What principles? (I can imagine principled objections, but what are Arndt’s?) And as for the bit about regulation — huh? I agree with the idea that fisheries need to be better managed (and ideally better regulated), but it’s not at all clear that that’s at all relevant here. The fact is that the fisheries have not been well-managed, and that’s not likely to change much any time soon. And farmed salmon are very likely part of any sane protein-production system of the future. And it’s very likely that AquaBounty’s growth-accelerated GM salmon are very likely to be popular among salmon farmers. And if that ends up translating (as hoped) into lower prices, then high-end restaurants may be able to forego the savings, but ones that serve more cost-conscious consumers will not.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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