tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera February 2, 2016 9:00pm-9:31pm EST
>> you made a lot of incredible music and made a lot of people happy. we're proud to have you on the program. >> thank you. >> that's our broadcast. i'm john seigenthaler. we'll see you back here tomorrow night. ali is next. i'm ali velshi, "on target", something fishy in the food supply, the government says genetically altered salmon is fit for consumption. not everyone is eager to eat it. the u.s. food and drug administration sparked a debate about genetically modified food by improving franken fit - the f.d.a.'s decision that
genetically engineered salmon, produced by a massa chews et cetera company, is just as safe to eat. they grow in half the time as normal salmon, and means cheaper and more food for those places overfished. more on that later. first, some of the big food retailers are saying no thanks to genetically engineered salmon, including kroger, target whole foods and costco, and that is one side around the genetically engineered organisms have as much to do with fear as scientific evidence. most americans don't buy that. a pew research survey found 57% of americans don't think genetically modified foods is safe. compared to 37% that say it's
safe. you wonder how many in either group know that 80% of the food americans eat contains genetically modified ingredients. one thing is clear. most consumers want to know if the food they are buying contains g.m.o.s. tens of thousands of products have labels confirm thatting they do not have them. that's a voluntary move made by companies trying to inform consumers or cash in on anti-g.m.o. sentiment. on the other side. companies whose products include g.m.o.s do not have an obligation to disclose that. the f.d.a. is saying such products are not significantly different to their non-counterparts. that brings me all the way back to frankenfish and consumers that fear there's something fishy about it. the company selling the salmon went have to disclose that it's
genetically engineered. one of the issues for the genetically altered animal heading to the table. >> reporter: these fish are fresh and wild in any shop. king salmon caught off the coast of the alaska. in the next few years there do be competition from farm raised atlantic salmon. >> in the pacific north-west we'd have a hard time selling genetically modified salmon to the public. >> a massachusetts company has been working on the concept for years, using land based fish farms to lessen the chance of mixing with wild stocks and sending disease. the company claims that it grows twice as fast as normal. >> maybe in costco, in a big-box retail organization, there may
be a place. >> this from the f.d.a.'s center for medicine. it has analysed and evaluated data, submitted by the technologies, regarding the salmon, determining that they have met requirements for approval. including that food from the fish is safe to eat. genetically modified products are part of the food chain, in the form. of grain and vegetables. the salmon is the first genetically modified product approved by the f.d.a. there's no regulations requiring the salmon to be labelled as genetically modified. if they compete with fish like these. aqua bounty is certain to face pressure from environmental groups dead set against g.m.o. products. winning the hearts, minds and tastebuds of salmon loving americans could be a battle. >> i think it's another way to cheat mother nature for a higher
profit, for big money. >> i'm not anorganic granola kind of guy. >> i'm not sure, if i was offered some, i would try it. aqua boundary spects it will be several years before their fish with the tweaked d.n.a. makes it to market. >> joining us, is allen schauffler from seattle. >> how do you find the response to retailers, are they bowing to fear or are they trying to maintain prices from non-g.m.o. salmon. >> it's a combination of both. some of the retailers that say we are making the decision for now, they may not rule it out in the future. there's pressure from the public and environmental groups to put a stop to g.m.o.s on the market and demand labelling. we have seen labelling requirement initiatives go down in oregon and washington in the last couple of election cycles.
i'd say retailers now are saying we will not do this, and they'll examine the position later. if it looks like they'll make a few bucks off the fish. >> is there a way that it will bring down the price of salmon. this is salmon, it's an expensive fish. do we have a sense that prices will come down because of this? >> i have no idea about the impact of the price of all the atlantic salmon eaten in the country. 95% are farm raised and imported from the big markets. chile, scotland, finland, places like that. people are eating and have been eating farm-raised salmon in this country in large numbers, for a long time. we'll see. a fish that can grow in 18 months instead of three years, can de brought to market cheaper and faster, you'd assume that would have a price
pointed that would be attractive to people selling the fish and buying the fish. >> if we are lurching towards a green future, we nay not have the nice quaint choices about wanting farm raised or nonfarm raised salmon. we may be a world that is thankful to have fish that grow twice as fast and can be marketed in a hurry. >> in new york. the fish come from the supermarket. you in seattle probably have a closer tie to nature. the g.m.o. debate out there or across the country, where people say tell me, let me know if these are genetically modified organisms or not. what is the push back against that. >> you made the point in your make-up that we've been eating genetically modified food for some time. we have seen initiatives requiring the labelling of g.m.o. food labelling go down.
in a lessoning and lessoning margin of victory, but they have been defeated. people are concerned. there may be a growing concern. there hasn't been a demand that these things be labelled. in the case of the fish, the frankenfish, the f.d.a. is not requiring that the company label them any specific way, but they are sending out guidelines saying it can be done voluntarily, if the company wants to do it or if they are franchised out, and they are the ones bringing them to market. could voluntarily thable them as such, and there are guidelines. there'll be a public comment taken by the f.d.a., and you can bet a lot of anti-g.m.o. folks will get in touch with them and voice their opinions coming up. commercial fishermen in california say franken fish
normal salmon, and the company making it can only raise them in land filled sanction in a couple of locations. and they will not be able to breathe in the unlikely event they'll escape. and that is to address fears of frankenfish mixing with wild salmon. golden gate salmon association, a coalition of commercial businesses and fishermen relying on wild salmon. the group says is poses a serious threat to wild salmon and california's $1.4 billion salmon industry. golden gait salmon executive director joins me from san francisco. thank you for seeing me. it took 20 years of looking at this for the f.d.a. to approve genetically modified salmon. they say it's safe, you say it
could pose a threat to wild salmon tabbing -- stock, why? >> they did a yes cursely look at the federal level. we asked for an gens review to be done, an environmental impact statement. the federal government refused to do that. nicks, if the fish make it to market. consumers will not know they are genetically engineered, because there's no labelling requirement. a bigger concern is everywhere we have seen salmon farmed - whether it's norway, chile, canada or washington state, there has been escapees. the canadian government made a finding that they expect there'll be escapees with these fish as well. >> let's go through some of these things.
what do you think the sda will find if it did a full environmental review. >> one thing they would find is the sterilisation process that is contemplated is not 100% effective. even after sterilising the fish, 5% are able to reproduce. if they escape into the wild. they can produce in the wild, and that would pose a threat to wild salmon. explain the threat, what would happen if the genetically engineered salmon get into the wild. >> i'd like to explain it. what i suggest is because the fish are so big and hungry, they have basically a growth hormone that is switched to be permanently on, they gobble everything in sight. what they want to gobble is the same food needed by okay or child salmon, just for starters.
>> explain that to me. you are talking about what kind of food. you are arguing that it's les efficient to feed the salmon than to the way normal salmon grow? >> it's a complicated question. salmon like to eat small fish in the ocean. in our coast, in the west coast they eid sardines, herring, small fish. we expect the franken fish will go out and do the same thing. just for starters, they might also be brought to fresh starter systems to lay their eggs. they may occupy the spawning areas. we are asking the federal government to take a look at the statement. and take a look at the problem. >> the argument is a growing salmon, and the genetically engineered salmon grow faster
than normal salmon. anything in there that you like. >> let me make a point. for thousands of years, humans bread animals to create stronger animals. we don't have an issue, what is going on is they've taken genes from three species, and crammed them in a lab environment, and basically produced a fish that you would never see in the wild. i don't thing the average consumer would want to eat such a thing. >> i see the point that people should be able to choose. you should see the stuff i eat. it's a good point. i would also make the point that it takes more fish basically to produce the food. wild salmon are more efficient.
if you want to feed the matses, let's talk about harvesting the anchovy and other stock, and use it as food. it's more efficient than taking vast volumes. fish in the ocean, reducing it to fish farm food. one of the things you pointed out. this is a bridge too far. you representatives an organization of people who fish wild salmon on the pacific. why does this work for you, why is it badder than normal salmon. >> it is. it's starting down a slippery slope. this salmon happened to be the first, that's now been approved for human consumption. i wouldn't want to eat the
thing. we are out fishing off california, oregon, washington, canadian and alaskan coasts. producing lots of wild salmon sustainably, great food. and we feel the consumer would have that. >> they are never not going to be given the choice. they can choose wild salmon over farmed salmon, and genetically engineered salmon, assuming they can tell the difference. i can tell the difference between wild salmon and farmed salmon. i can't with a lot, i can with that. but people generally know, and buy it. >> it tastes different. some of the salmon caught in alaska, sock-eye and co-hoe, you can bring them to markets close
to the price of some farmed fish. there's a lot of good product available. if it's liabilitied, as we think it should be, the consumer can make their own choice, i don't want to understate the fact that we see the g.e. salmon as a threat. if they get out in the wild, it will be bad news for wild solomon. they are many times larger, it's like - the wild solomon going up against giants competing in the same part of the eco system again, these will be farmed in panama and other place and by the time they get to the united states, they are dead. >> i think that what we know right now is they've been approved for production in canada and panama. we don't know where they'll go after that. >> my understanding is that in the data and documents the company presented to the federal government. they have considered a fish that
is 100 grams, 6 inches long. it's not the fish that is going to market. >> it's growing somewhere. you say they'll come to the u.s. and could be growing them here. what i'm sake, it looks like the plans are to produce fast volumes of juvenile fish, and the plan is probably to sell them to salmon farms in parts of the world they get away with if. chile they farm lots of sal mop, and they have huge environmental salmon. will they grow these things? i don't know. we don't want to find out. everywhere in the world where we see salmon farm of course, we see escapees. the net pans are out in open waters, they externalize the pollution, and they failed in basically every country. >> i hear your scenario, it's maybe a better movie than a news
report. they are saying that these will be sterile. you say your studies indicate that the project process is not universal. you'd have to have an escapee fish that happens to not have been sterilised to get out and cause damage to wild stocks. >> that's fair. it's not our studies that say 5%. up to 5% would be reproduced. that's submitted to the federal government. >> thank you for sharing the the discussion with me. it's important. hopefully we'll get a chance to talk about why consumers don't get to know how their food is made, and the labelling issue. john is the executive director. golden gate science. the same programme that gives us modified fish can help to keep your children healthy, but there is a catch. that's coming up.
tell you, the bird of a child is full of signing of forms. when our child was born we were asked to sign a form to allow the doctors to do some genetic screening. to take a pin prick of blood, using it to screen for more than 30 potential afflictions, it's possible in the last decade to use it to sequence is baby's d.n.a. revealing all information for a doctor or scientist. >> they are stored here at a facility maintained by the department of public health. it's a treasure trove of genetic information. the average scientific database offers up genetic information of a few thousand at most. this place has the information of everyone born in california in 1983. that is millions of people's worth of genetic information.
>> the samples are available to more than just health workers. every state had a programme like this. the programme makes it available to law enforcement and private companies. it can pay. the department of public health did not want to responds to requests. the samples are deidentified and passed to paying companies as anonymous data. d.n.a. information is so unique, that prifsy groups have said it is possible to cross-reference them and identify the person. the state identified a form requiring consent for parents for indefinite storage and research. it failed to pass, the database is growing. >> it's an incredible resource. >> dr michael schneider used the californian database to investigate childhood disease.
>> all of us have diseases that one in the family. we hope to predict that. you need data from a lot of people to understand that. >> he says my kids stand to benefit more from being part of the database than they would otherwise said. >> from people that have the diseases. the parents don't care about privacy. they care at some level, but the number one matter is to help the child. >> reporter: the programme allows me as a personality to have the kids' data destroyed. researchers hope it will not do that. the code of our bodies can help bring more healthy children into the world. >> jake joins me, are privacy advocates going too mar. is there really a chance it will be connected to a person? >> we are living in a time when we have not yet seen anyone do anything nefarious with d.n.a.
information. back in 2013, a group of researchers came up with a product where they reversed d.n.a. and link it to individuals. they took five donors much d.n.a., and came up with not just their names, but 45 connected. there are ways to reverse identify people. what kind of nefarious purpose would they put it to. will there be a hiring practice. will the dating life go out of the window. we don't know what the downside is. the upside is they can do incredible research. he has done a projected in which he takes samples from the database and experiment on the genes of twins. not just a couple of them. 10,000 or more. the balance is not clear yet. >> it's a little surprising that california is selling the data so the scientists can do what he
did, it's one thing to allow is to be used as research. does the selling of the data make it another matter? >> i think that is the question here. the department of public health is not saying why it is they allow private companies to buy this. they point out that you can have your information destroyed later. that is really a new and a very grey area. that said, a lot of scientific breakthroughs come from companies. we are talking about research that is accelerated quickly by access to senn etic information, and -- genetic information, and reselling it to private companies has a benefit. they don't abide by the same standards. that's the tension. >> thank you jake ward. >> that is the show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. the news continues on al jazeera america
[ ♪ ] burn thanks for joining us on "america tonight", i'm joie chen, years in the making, the turbulence in our economy has led to a new normal in the housing market. more and more home renters, more than a third of u.s. householders rent. many lost their homes in the mortgage crisis, many have not saved enough to buy. hidden, the upper hand landlords have over their