Would genetically modified salmon be considered kosher?

| | December 16, 2014
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Many of us in this era of ecologically motivated dietary restrictions find ourselves editing our menu choices, but I wondered how those with an older, more traditional layer of proscriptions adjust to the new order. When it comes to fish, can you simultaneously eat sustainably and kosher?

When one considers one Jewish staple, salmon, the waters get murky. Take a genetically engineered salmon under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration. The genome of that fish, the AquaBounty AquAdvantage salmon, is composed of DNA from Atlantic salmon (kosher), coupled with a growth gene from a Pacific king salmon (also kosher).

But the genetically engineered salmon construct also contains an antifreeze promoter from a fish called an ocean pout, which may be trayf (with so many fish in the sea, the Orthodox Union, one of the strictest kosher-certifying organizations, has yet to issue a formal ruling on the pout).

As for other farmed salmon, the Torah and its commentators keep us in the dark on best practices — there was no salmon aquaculture at the time of Moses. The Monterey Bay Aquarium continues to give most farmed salmon a no-go rating, but approves most wild Alaska salmon.

Which salmon should we eat? The Lord gave us both free choice and a compulsion to study and debate. Learn the issues, ye diners, and choose accordingly.

Read full, original article: Can Seafood Be Kosher and Sustainable?

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