Top Food Service Company Aramark Rejects Genetically Engineered Salmon Ahead of First U.S. Sales

Three largest food service companies in the U.S. have rejected genetically engineered salmon

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Top food service company Aramark just announced its commitment not to sell genetically engineered (GE) salmon. The producer of the salmon, AquaBounty Technologies, announced plans to sell its first-ever harvest in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021.  

The announcement came in an update of Aramark’s (NYSE: ARMK) Sustainable Sourcing Policy: “Reiterating our previously stated opposition to genetically engineered (GE) salmon, we will not purchase it should it come to market. Avoiding potential impacts to wild salmon populations and indigenous communities, whose livelihoods are deeply connected to and often dependent upon this vital resource, is core to our company’s commitment to making a positive impact on people and the planet.”

“This is an overdue but pivotal step towards real accountability and corporate integrity, one that every other company in the fisheries industry must make,” said Fawn Sharp, president of Quinault Indian Nation. “This incremental progress must continue as corporations learn to be morally accountable for their actions, and sincere and respectful partners to the Tribal Nations who have sustainably managed these fisheries since time immemorial.”

Aramark joins two other major food service companies, Compass Group (OTCMKTS: CMPGY) and Sodexo (SDXAY), as well as the largest U.S. grocery retailers, seafood companies, and restaurants that have stated that they will not sell GE salmon. This widespread market rejection comes ahead of not only AquaBounty Technologies’ plans to sell the first GE animal approved for human consumption in the U.S., but also a scuffle between the USDA and the FDA about which agency should be regulating future GE animals.

Notably, Compass Group and Sodexo’s previous commitments expand beyond GE salmon to include all genetically modified animals.

“The corporate consolidation of our seafood markets is pushing out community-based fishermen and BIPOC fishermen left and right and destroying our waters,” said Jason Jarvis, a commercial fisherman from Rhode Island and the Board President of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). “These GE salmon would be just another step in that direction, and we have the chance to stop more of this destruction right now.”

In November, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled the FDA’s approval of AquaBounty Technologies’ (NASDAQ: AQB) genetically engineered salmon was issued unlawfully, concluding that FDA violated several core environmental laws in issuing the approval, including the Endangered Species Act. However, the court ruling nonetheless currently does not prevent GE salmon from being sold in the U.S., although the Plaintiffs have sought reconsideration of that decision. 

“Genetically engineered salmon pose unacceptable risks to wild salmon and broader ecosystems. People across the country have made it clear that they don’t want genetically engineered salmon, and leading food service companies are listening,” said Dana Perls, food and technology program manager at Friends of the Earth. “We thank these companies for taking such an important step forward in sustainable seafood sourcing. The next step is to source more local and sustainable food from indigenous, black and people of color farmers and fishers. “

“This is an important victory. It is crucial that companies like Aramark refuse to sell GE animals to wholesalers and consumers,” said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director for Center for Food Safety. “The recent court decision on GE salmon makes clear that they are poorly regulated; nor do they have clear labeling.”

Expert contacts: Dana Perls, (925) 705-1074, [email protected]; Jaydee Hanson, (703) 231-5956, [email protected]; Jon Russell, (412) 260-2950, [email protected]
Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, [email protected]

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