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GM Salmon Up For Debate

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that the agency will hold two public meetings on AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically modified (GM) Atlantic salmon intended to be used for food, on September 19-21, 2010.  

According to an announcement, the FDA Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee will address science-based issues associated with AquaBounty Technologies’ application for approval of AquAdvantage Salmon during these meetings.  

The first day of public meetings is designed to be an orientation for Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee members on the technology of producing GM animals and the FDA’s regulatory process for evaluating these animals.  Day 2 will involve FDA presentations on animal health, food safety, environmental concerns, and data supporting the claim that AquAdvantage Salmon grow faster than conventionally bred Atlantic salmon.

On the third day of meetings, the FDA plans to hold a public meeting at which it will present the relevant legal principles for food labeling and describe information made available prior to the hearing about the GM fish.  In the announcement the FDA noted:  “Although it will be FDA’s responsibility to determine if any special labeling is required in accordance with federal law, the hearing will offer the public an opportunity to comment on the application of the relevant food labeling principles to foods that might be made from the AquAdvantage Salmon.”

Friday, a coalition of 31 consumer, animal welfare, and environmental

groups joined with commercial and recreational fisheries associations

and food retailers to submit a joint statement criticizing the FDA

announcement that AquAdvantage GM salmon could be approved for human

consumption.

 

“We all know there is a great appetite for salmon, but the solution is

not to ‘farm’ genetically engineered versions to put more on our dinner

tables; the solution is to work to bring our wild salmon populations

back,” said Jonathan Rosenfield, PhD, a Conservation Biologist and

President of the SalmonAID Foundation, a 28-member coalition

of commercial, tribal, and sportfishing interests, conservation

organizations and chefs.  “The approval of these transgenic fish will

only exacerbate the problems facing our wild fisheries.”

“FDA’s decision to go ahead with this approval process is misguided and

dangerous, and is made worse by its complete lack of data to review,”

said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food

Safety.  “FDA has been sitting on this application for 10 years and yet

it has chosen not to disclose any data about its decision until just a

few days before the public meeting.”

AquaBounty Inc. submitted its first application to release a transgenic Atlantic Salmon in 1999.  According to a paper released in 2006 by the Institute of Science in Society, the AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon “contains a Chinook salmon growth hormone gene driven by the ocean pout antifreeze promoter, resulting in a dramatic increase in growth rate.”  The paper was written by Prof. Joe Cummins and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho in response to the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the United Nations

announcement that it was preparing guidelines for safety assessment of

foods derived from recombinant-DNA animals.

In 2007, AquaBounty had also begun developing growing strains of fin fish capable of reducing growth to maturity time by as much as 50 percent.  The FDA paper stated that AquAdvantage was expecting FDA approval of some of its GM fish as early as 2006 and that it planned a commercial launch in 2009.  

At the time the paper was released, scientists had expressed concerns over the release of sexually reproducing transgenic fish into nature.  Extinction of the natural fish population was one concern expressed.   

“We believe any approval of GE salmon would represent a serious threat to the survival of native salmon populations, many of which have already suffered severe declines related to salmon farms and other man-made impacts,” added Marianne Cufone, director of the Food and Water Watch fish program.
 
Boyce Thorne Miller, Science and Policy Coordinator for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and accredited observer at the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, added, “Approving genetically engineered salmon is a sharp contradiction to the agreements the United States has signed at NASCO, where transgenic salmonids are considered a serious threat to wild salmon.”

Correction:  Authorship of “GM Food Animals Coming” was originally incorrectly attributed to the FDA.  The paper was released by the Institute of Science in Society

© Food Safety News
  • Ms. Schreck provides us with a timely, succinct summary of this event. There is more to the story.
    First, Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Food at the FDA, is the author of the notoriously unscientific legal argument “substantial equivalence” which is now asserted as dogma by the FDA/USDA.
    It is “substantial equivalence” that opens us to this type of this type of potential ecological nightmare. And the FDA appears to be focusing only on labeling issues.
    Second, as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S 510) is supposed to “modernize” the FDA why doesn’t it address GMO foods?

  • Ms. Schreck provides us with a timely, succinct summary of this event. There is more to the story.
    First, Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Food at the FDA, is the author of the notoriously unscientific legal argument “substantial equivalence” which is now asserted as dogma by the FDA/USDA.
    It is “substantial equivalence” that opens us to this type of this type of potential ecological nightmare. And the FDA appears to be focusing only on labeling issues.
    Second, as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S 510) is supposed to “modernize” the FDA why doesn’t it address GMO foods?

  • marcy feibelman

    I very much oppose the genetic modification of salmon. It is not healthy for people who consume it, as well as unhealthy for the fish themselves and the environment. Also, what about the fishermen who safely and humanely capture the salmon?
    I strongly advise you to not allow genetically modified salmon to be released for sale to the public.
    This would be a step in the wrong direction – in regard to healthy, sustainable, environmentally friendly food.

  • Karen Hamon

    This is outrageous!
    First genetically modified plant organisms in almost every our entire food supply – from grocery stores to fast food;
    then, meat from animals who ate that genetically modified organism …. and eggs from chickens who ate that genetically modified MUTATED plant … which we then eat? Is there nothing to be left un-mutated before this is all over?
    Hmmmm, so, to whom might this this horrifying ‘probable’ decision to allow this MUTATED fish into our food supply … benefit? Definitely not me and you, who are not sitting high on the totem pole.
    You can be 100% sure, the Creators of this monster fish have not, nor will ever eat the flesh of this creation … nor will the “upper echelon” of the world nor will those in the know in the Whitehouse.
    Why does it feel like … we are guinea pigs?!
    I just heard Monsanto is ready to put their Patent on a Pig gene which exists naturally in pigs around the world?
    What the heck? They admitted long ago, their goal was
    to take control of the whole world’s food supply (unhealthy at that). Looks like Monsanto does have some competition, or do they? If not in cohorts … money will either buy them out or sink them.
    Then, those we are supposed to trust in, to protect us from dangerous food stuff entering into our food supply just continue to happily approve any nasty dangerous food stuff coming down the tube – and then not even insisting this crap be labeled so we have a choice whether to buy it or not. Soon, I suspect, when those in financial power who get done with us, we will not be able to find one healthy natural food in the grocery store so then there will be no need for labeling for all will be corrupted…and all the signs point to the day when people will neither be allowed to grow their own natural and healthy food.
    Is this not where this is all heading? We will one day have no choice nor control over the food we feed our babies, children, and ourselves?
    What better way to carry viruses and diseases to the multitudes except via food and water (which we have no control over)??