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FDA Whispers Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon

Posted on 05 January 2013 by Jerry

It seems as if everything about the new genetically modified “AquAdvantage” salmon from AquaBounty Technologies is controversial.  Besides the inherent dangers to the world’s native salmon population if the GM fish were to get loose in the ocean (see photo of GM salmon next to much smaller natural salmon), the recent quiet issuance of the FDA’s environmental assessment declaring the fish safe to eat and environmentally harmless according to critics was released surreptitiously. 

The report was approved for issuance before the Presidential election on April 19, 2012 but was only released electronically by the FDA on December 21, 2012 after Obama was re-elected.  It showed up on the FDA website without press releases or any other public disclosure.  The timing and nature of the release were suspicious to many who believed there was a conscious, politically motivated effort to bury the report. 

AquaBounty assures environmentalists the fish will never get loose in the ocean where it is feared it would “crowd out” normal Pacific and Atlantic salmon leading to their extinction and replacement.  The company created the fish by removing a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and engineering it into the genetic code of the Pacific Salmon causing the modified salmon to grow twice as fast and get much larger.  The company states it will “engineer” its eggs in Canada which ultimately will be shipped to Panama to mature into fish.  According to the company, the fish that are grown will all be female who are sterile because they contain three copies of their chromosomes rather than the normal two.

The FDA’s process calls for its report to be published in the Federal Register which paves the way for a public review period of between 30 and 90 days.  Unless there is a second review period, the FDA could issue formal approval sometime in 2013.  Across the U.S., all legislative efforts to require mandatory labeling of GM food have failed, most recently in California in 2012.  Because of this and the eminent approval of the genetically modified salmon by the FDA, shoppers will have no way to know they are consuming a GM food. This would be the first transgenic animal to have approval for human consumption in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world.

As it was with all the U.S. foodstuffs with GM ingredients that now crowd U.S. supermarket shelves, U.S. FDA approval will generate significant pressure internationally for countries to approve sale of GM salmon.  Present estimates are that roughly 80% of packaged foods that people buy at supermarkets in the U.S. contain some GM grains or oils.  The U.S. government’s and Canada’s active support of genetically modified foods has been well documented (see our June 13, 2012 posting “Genetic Engineering Influence Peddling and Profit”). Unless there is public outcry to all of our legislators and to the Executive Branch, GM salmon is soon to be a reality.

Use the following links for more information:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11368657

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23035-approval -for-genemodified-salmon-spawns-controversy/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2252808/what-possibly-wrong-gm-fish-set-supermarket-shelves-U-S-watchdog-rules-frankenfish-safe-environment.html

http://iamaguardian.com/741/genetic-engineering-influence-peddling-and-profit/

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