Old-mac_406x250The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has been nominated for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF’s) 2015 “Luddite Award.” Luddites are people or organizations that exist to hold back the introduction of new technologies. Nominees for the “Luddite Award” include “the year’s worst innovation killers,” according to ITIF, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute that focuses “on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy.” CFS was nominated mainly for going to court to stop the introduction of fast-growing bioengineered salmon known as AquAdvantage, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved. The genetically engineered fish will, according to FDA, be in “all respects relevant to health, safety, and nutrition, indistinguishable from any other Atlantic salmon.” CFS has not responded to being nominated for the Luddite award. Its founder and executive director, Andrew Kimbrell, is also an executive director of the San Francisco-based Center for Technology Assessment. CFS is involved in any number of food safety issues, but definitely has made a priority out of stopping genetically engineered salmon CFS has many lawyers but only one scientist on staff, according to ITIF, which claims that the organization has little or no expertise food safety, but “demonstrated experience in promoting fear.” “Their raison d’etre is to use misleading claims, lawsuits, and other harassment to oppose agricultural innovation and keep the world safe for Victorian farming methods,” ITIF says. “Besides opposing more affordable and healthier salmon, the Center for Food Safety also has pushed to stigmatize foods derived through biotech improvements by labeling them even when exhaustive research concludes there is no health, safety, or nutritional information to convey to the public.” ITIF says the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date shows biotech innovations in crop improvement have increased agricultural yields on average by 22 percent, reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, and increased farmer income by 68 percent. But it is concerned that improvements in animal husbandry have lagged despite numerous needs and opportunities. “The salmon represents a real innovation that will improve people’s health while reducing the price of food. It has been improved to reach market size in half the usual time (16-18 months, rather than the usual 32-36) on 20 percent less feed, meaning that for the first time salmon could be a low-cost substitute for meat in American diets,” said Robert Atkinson, ITIF’s founder and president, in a report on the nominees. “The salmon is intended to be grown in concrete tanks in warehouses close to major markets, like Chicago. The fish are sterile, so they cannot breed with wild salmon in the unlikely event they escape from their concrete tanks and get to an open ocean. They also have been designed to eliminate the potential downsides sometimes associated with conventionally farmed Atlantic salmon, which have been observed to escape from their sea pens and carry parasites or diseases into wild populations.” According to ITIF, the FDA took more than a decade to review data on the salmon to ensure it would be safe for humans to eat without the need for any special labeling. An online poll is underway to pick who gets the 2015 Luddite Award from this complete list of nominees: 1. Alarmists tout an artificial intelligence apocalypse. 2. Advocates seek a ban on “killer robots.” 3. States limit automatic license plate readers. 4. Europe, China, and others choose taxi drivers over car-sharing passengers. 5. The paper industry opposes e-labeling. 6. California’s governor vetoes RFID in driver’s licenses. 7. Wyoming outlaws citizen science. 8. The Federal Communications Commission limits broadband innovation. 9. The Center for Food Safety fights genetically improved food. 10. Ohio and others ban red light cameras. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)