If you think you have the best idea since Jesus Christ used only five loaves and two fishes to feed the multitude, chances are you are going to fight for it.

After taking shots from politicians from so-called Salmon states, AquaBounty Technologies in recent days has begun a counteroffensive for its genetically tweaked Atlantic salmon.

“We remain confident that the more deliberative body of the Senate will refrain from interfering in the 15 year scientific review by the U.S. FDA,” said Ronald L. Stotish, president and chief executive officer of AquaBounty Technologies.

Fear of competition from a bigger, faster growing Atlantic salmon has brought out all of Washington D.C.’s usual tricks for manipulating markets.  Alaska’s Congressman, Republican Don Young, just wants to cut off FDA’s funding for ruling on AquaBounty’s application.

Stotish is now pushing back, saying, “It would be a dangerous precedent to react to a handful of legislators’ misinformed paranoia.”

“The real waste of tax-payer dollars would be to abandon the important American principle of science-based regulation, responding instead to economic protectionist fears or subjective and emotional judgments, ” said Stotish. “This is an issue greater than our application, an issue of American leadership in technology, innovation, and science-based regulation.”

FDA currently is preparing an Environmental Assessment, which will then be followed by a public comment period, on AquaBounty’s application for the genetically engineered fish.   AquaBounty, a Waltham, MA-based company, says the science proves the transgenic fish is biologically and chemically indistinguishable from regular Atlantic salmon. It only grows faster.

Eight U.S. senators and 15 representatives have so far put political pressure on FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg by calling the bigger salmon a “Frankenfish.”

FDA has not identified any food safety or environmental risk, according to Stotish. “But a science-based review process is being threatened by political shenanigans.” he says.

Transgenic salmon are sterile, exclusively female, and unable to breed even if they escaped from the facilities where they are raised into the wild, according to the company.  AquaBounty claims the sort of threat to wild stocks and habitat described by critics is just is not possible.

America’s biotech industry is said to be carefully watching how the federal government is handling the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption.  If  U.S. approvals collapse, AquaBounty is expected to take its big fish offshore for approval someplace else.

  • dangermaus

    The record of our government’s “Science-based regulation” in this area is pretty atrocious, when you look at what’s happened to our waterways, particularly the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels, carp, nutrias, the ever-expanding escape of “patented” genes into formerly non-GMO strains of food plants…
    Waiting until after something has caused irreversible ecological damage, thereby proving that it’s a threat, is a little late to act to prevent a new GMO from causing irreversible ecological damage.

  • Doc Mudd

    “Transgenic salmon are sterile, exclusively female, and unable to breed even if they escaped from the facilities where they are raised into the wild…”
    What part of that reality do you not understand, Dr dangermaus?
    How am I ever to be crowned “the dumbest person on the internet” if you refuse to step down, refuse to relinquish the title and stop being so danged hypercomptetive over it?

  • federal microbiologist

    …when Aventis Crop Science received EPA approval to sell ‘Starlink’ GMO / Cry9c maize in 1998, Aventis assured the Ag industry and the EPA that the likelihood of Starlink escaping into the wider supply of corn –i.e., corn destined for human consumption – was negligible.
    But just to further reduce the likelihood of such an improbable event, Aventis assured the EPA that it would advise purchasers of Starlink seed that plantings be sited at least 660 ft from other, non-GMO corn plantings intended for human consumption.
    Well, we all know what happened. In September 2000, the WaPo published a story on the testing of food items for Starlink-associated DNA fragments. Starlink maize popped up in a number of different foods, most notably ‘Taco Bell’ brand taco shells.
    Notably, the testing was sponsored by a coalition of organic food advocates, not by any federal agency.
    There was an immediate and all-encompassing disruption to the ag economy of the US. Big Ag operators like Kellogg, ADM, and ConAgra had to shut down their production facilities.
    Aventis didn’t help the situation by trying a tactic often used by the agrochemical industry: declaring that once the horse has gone, the barn door might as well be thrown out. Aventis wanted the FDA to declare a ‘tolerance’ exemption for the presence of Starlink in food.
    Aventis would up paying out an estimated $100+ million in settlements, a burden that sent the company into bankruptcy (it was later bought up at a steep discount by Bayer AG in 2002).
    Are we now supposed to believe AquaBounty when it says its GMO salmon are indeed sterile and incapable of cross-breeding with native salmon, ‘even if’ they should escape their pens ?
    Yeah, sure…..companies like Aventis Crop Science and AquaBounty would never tell us anything that wasn’t true…
    [‘Myths of voluntary compliance: Lessons from the Starlink corn fiasco’, R. Bratspies, William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, vol. 27, issue 3, 2003]

  • Doc Mudd

    Heh, heh. Yeah. Whatever.
    Corn, fish. Plants, animals. That whole plant/animal kingdom order-genus-species thing…what’s the difference, really, when scaremongering among scientifically illiterate imbeciles?
    Last time I checked, fish weren’t plants. But, just to be on the safe side, fed, you’d better keep your head under the covers and keep your Mickey Mouse nightlight blazing to ward off scary ol’ boogiemen and such.
    Oh, and keep the insipid gossip flowing, the mistrust cranking:
    “‚Ķcompanies like Aventis Crop Science and AquaBounty would never tell us anything that wasn‚Äôt true‚Ķ”
    Scaremongers are such a hoot! Better’n a dozen episodes of Three Stooges and Keystone Cops all edited together.
    Dammit, dr dangermaus’ “dumbest person on the internet” contest just gets more and more competitive — it ain’t gonna be no walk in the park to clinch this thing, I can see that right now.

  • Ken Roseboro

    I can’t believe the arrogance of the lead sentence of this article: “the best idea since Jesus Christ used only five loaves and two fishes to feed the multitude.”
    This is the problem with companies that produce GE plants and animals. The arrogance of science, thinking their creations are going to “feed the world.” It’s complete PR hype with no basis in reality.
    Someday people will look back on this GE salmon and ask “what were they thinking?”