Saturday, December 22, 2012

FDA Moves Closer to Approving Genetically Engineered Salmon

The Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety have responded to the news of the FDA releasing an Environmental Assessment on genetically engineered salmon with a "Finding of No significant Impact."  This decision indicates that the Obama Administration will approve the genetically engineered salmon, for production for human consumption.

The Center for Food Safety has set up this online petition opposing the approval of GE Fish.  According to CFS' e-mail alert:

FDA says escape is unlikely and that the fish pose “no impact” to the environment. But each year millions of farmed salmon escape, outcompeting wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems. 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. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a release of just sixty GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 could lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 fish generations. Wild salmon populations are already on the Endangered Species List; approving these GE salmon will be the final blow to these wild stocks.

The human health impacts of eating GE fish, which would be the first-ever GE food animal, are entirely unknown, but some scientific research raises cause for alarm: for example, some scientists have asserted that foreign growth hormones in transgenic fish may increase production of other compounds such as insulin in the fish. Additionally, FDA has recognized that a transgene cannot be “turned off” once it is inserted in the organism, and will therefore have effects that are uncontrollable.

The Consumers Union raises other concerns including:

  • the potential of the fish to cause allergic reactions have not been thoroughly tested
  • the FDA's finding of "no significant impact" is based on the assumption that the engineered salmon will have sterile females, but the FDA indicates that 5% of the salmon may be fertile - for instance fish at an egg production facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada would not be sterile
  • genetically modified salmon will not be labeled in fish markets, restaurants or supermarkets
Sorry for the bad news right before the holidays, but it's likely that this decision was made at this time of the year with the hopes that the American public is distracted.  But, really - what if your Christmas dinner next year is genetically engineered salmon?  Sign the petition today.

Happy Holidays,

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