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.