Genetically Engineered Salmon to be Approved by FDA

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Genetically Engineered Salmon to be Approved by FDA

By Hannah Risner on This Dish Is Veg
September 2010

The FDA is trying to approve GE salmon as a new animal drug, but the truth is U.S. Food agencies don't have a way to fully evaluate the impacts of GE salmon on human health or the environment.

A new type of genetically engineered salmon is set to be approved as safe for human consumption by the FDA. The GE salmon is marketed as AquAdvantage® by the company Aquabounty, Inc. and is close to becoming the first GE animal to be approved for human consumption. The fish have been given a gene that allow them to grow all year, making them available to go to market in half the time it takes for a normal salmon to grow, thus increasing profit. However, critics of the salmon are calling it "Franken-Fish" and are urging consumers to take action in order to keep GE salmon out of the U.S.

Non-profit organization Food And Water Watch states, "The FDA is trying to approve GE salmon as a new animal drug, but the truth is U.S. Food agencies don't have a way to fully evaluate the impacts of GE salmon on human health or the environment. Worst of all, if these GE salmon are introduced into our food system, they won't be labeled, so consumers won't know what they're buying."

Critics also cite the overcrowding of fish farming as abusive and harmful both for the fish and potentially for the human consumers. Many say that the parent company behind these "monster fish" has kept a suspicious amount of information and data regarding the GE salmon private and that there is a significant lack of transparency about the whole process in general, raising eyebrows throughout activists groups.

The company's website says of their product, "Salmon grown from AquAdvantage® eggs are the same as any other Atlantic salmon. They do not grow to a larger size than conventional Atlantic salmon. Their ability to grow faster does not impact the nutritional or biological make-up of the fish. AquAdvantage® Salmon simply makes more efficient use of its salmon growth genes." Consumers have the ability to visit the Aquabounty website to learn more about the salmon, which does address many questions that consumers might have about the product.

The debate sparks memories of a parallel story from earlier this year regarding the controversy involving Monsanto's genetically modified corn that was deemed safe to consume by the company's researchers. Scientists not affiliated with Monsanto later discovered that the GM corn was linked to organ damage in rats. At a time when political and environmental debates about GE and GM foods are heating up, these "franken-fish" will undoubtedly only add to the noise as tensions rise.