Farmed salmon feed includes fish meal, fish oil (from sardines, herring, anchovies) poultry byproducts (such as feathers, necks, intestines) and GMO soy and canola. The result is farmed fish with pale gray flesh. Dyes are added to their feed to give farmed salmon an attractive colour. The SalmoFanTM is used to measure the optimal shade of pink for farmed salmon. Tests have shown consumers prefer (color No. 33) a deeper shade of pink.
Farmed salmon are confined to open net-cages. Problems with ocean net cages include sea lice, diseases, antibiotics, chemical treatments, pollution, algae blooms, fish feed, farm waste, marine debris, and marine mammal deaths.
Net-cage salmon farming encourages antibiotic use. A salmon farm with 200,000 fish releases fecal matter roughly equal to a city of 65,000 people. In crowded net pens, diseases and parasites can become epidemics.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority recently stopped approving eight GMOs for use in fish feed because they contain genes for antibiotic resistance. Eleven other GMOs are still permitted in Norwegian fish feed.
The US Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to approve a genetically modified Atlantic salmon that grows twice as fast as normal. These genetically modified Atlantic salmon are designed for the farmed salmon industry. If approved, they would be the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption.