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FDA poised to approved genetically engineered salmon


It’s a food that you hear about over and over again as America tries to get back on track to eat healthier.
Salmon. It’s high in omega 3 fatty acids, which aids cardiovascular health.

Now the food industry, supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, wants to alter this great food so it can make more money – and make it faster.

Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc. has submitted an application to the FDA to request that it be allowed to sell an Atlantic salmon that has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, which allows the salmon to grow twice as fast as a traditional Atlantic salmon. It also contains a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon. The fish is called AquAdvantage Salmon.

Unfortunately, it looks like the FDA is going to approve this travesty.

In its background paper, “An Overview of Atlantic Salmon, Its Natural History, Aquaculture, and Genetic Engineering,” the agency says aquaculture of fish is the only way to meet the needs of growing populations. Fish consumption is increasing throughout the world.

Farm-raised fish, which will be bigger fish when this proposal is approved, will lead to increased water pollution, increased illness among fish, and the decimation of wild salmon stocks as the genetically engineered salmon intermingle with wild salmon.

We’ve just had a major foodborne illness outbreak. A billion shell eggs were recalled. The massive recall brought attention to the deplorable conditions in which chickens are raised – pens in which they can’t perch or spread their wings.

Now the food industry wants to grow bigger fish in more pens. It’s a foodborne illness and environmental disaster waiting to happen.

I think genetically engineered foods are bad for the American public. Most of these foods are banned in Europe. And, unfortunately, in this country, genetically engineered foods aren’t required to be labeled. About 75 percent of the food that Americans eat is genetically engineered, and they don’t even know it.

Ucm223810 The tone of the FDA’s background paper was very positive toward genetically engineered food. It looks like the Obama administration is going to cave in to the food industry once again.

Although President Obama was willing to take on the health care industry, to a degree, and financial institutions, also modestly, he hasn’t been willing to tackle the powerful food industry at all.

The administration made a big deal out of its proposals to curb obesity – all voluntary.

Next we’re likely to get "Enviropig," a hog genetically altered to produce environmentally friendly manure.

The FDA will present information that the agency has evaluated, with any confidential information redacted, to the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee at a public meeting to be held on Sept. 20. The material will be available two to 14 days before the meeting.

On labeling food from AquAdvantage Salmon, the agency is likely to say it doesn’t need special labeling. None of the genetically engineered crops sold in America are labeled. A hearing will be held Sept. 21, at which the public can express its views on labeling AquAdvantage Salmon. 

A coalition of 31 consumer, animal welfare, environmental and fisheries groups announced opposition to the approval last week, citing, in particular, concerns that the salmon could escape and possibly outcompete wild salmon for food or mates, The New York Times reports.

Among them are Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, SalmonAID Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Salmon Fishermen’s Association, Sierra Club, Say No to GMOS, Center for Environmental Health, PCC Natural Markets, Northern Atlantic Marine Alliance, and Organic Consumers Association.

Allowing such a healthy food as salmon to be genetically engineered is very discouraging. The only hopeful thought I have is that consumers can continue to buy and eat locally grown organic food and wild salmon.

We have a great Farmers’ Market here in Olympia, Wash., that sells wild salmon. I think I’ll go buy some tomorrow.

Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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