Genetically Modified Salmon?

September 29, 2010 | By | Comments (1)

3_Modified_Salmon.sff_300 Have you heard about all of the excitement at the FDA last week where they held hearings on allowing a genetically modified (GM) fish to be sold for human consumption?

AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts-based company, first applied for approval of their GM Atlantic salmon back in 1995, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the FDA decided it would even consider approval for genetically engineered animals. Some folks are up in arms because the presentation of scientific information and deliberations on the subject took place in secrecy. (See more from The Washington Post).

1_Modified_Salmon.sff_300

Others are concerned over apparent conclusions found in the FDA briefing packet released before last week’s hearings. It appears as if the FDA is poised to rule that there is no significant biological difference between the AquaAdvantage salmon and Atlantic salmon. And further, critics fear that the FDA is of the opinion that AquaBounty’s process for engineering the fish (adding a growth hormone from Chinook salmon to accelerate growth and adding genetic material from the pout—an eel-like fish—so the AquaAdvantage salmon will continue to grow in cold waters) is safe for the fish, safe for human consumption, and safe for the environment. (See the full FDA Briefing Packet). Pictured: An AquaAdvantage salmon is shown behind a natural Atlantic salmon of the same age.

Other concerns include: increased allergens; danger to wild fish populations; and whether data derived from American-farmed fish is statistically accurate for approval to raise the fish in Panama. (AquaBounty has applied for approval to sell fish they raise in Panama.) And probably most controversial of all, there are heated debates about whether or not to require that the fish be labeled as genetically altered at the point of sale. This is exciting stuff for folks on both sides of the issue because it’s potentially a ground-breaking decision. If approved, this will be the first time our government has allowed any genetically altered animal to be sold for human consumption.

Learn more at NPR.org and stay tuned. Or join the conversation. You can start by letting me know your opinion on the subject.

Photos: NPR.org

COMMENTS

  1. Sonja

    I’ve seen pretty compelling arguments for Genetically Modified Salmon to solve the hunger crisis around the world. That idea alone almost had me convinced it could be a step in the right direction. But when I look at a photo of a Genetically Modified AquaAdvantage Salmon that is whale-like compared to a Natural Atlantic Salmon I am immediately alarmed! What is that saying, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” It might look like a fish and smell like a fish, but on a molecular level I cannot help but feel it is a host of other illnesses just waiting to hatch. An even scarier thought is that a GMS might share the same environment as Natural Salmon, either on purpose or accidentally. What if someone just drops one of these suckers into the wild?…well, that is just a disturbing thought. I don’t trust it. I can hardly believe the FDA expects to pass this into the food chain without a label, either. I mean, this is the same entity that approved Olestra (causing anal leakage), but is investigating the makers of POM (Pomegranate Juice), a natural product, for false claims. Who would be held accountable if families started experiencing illnesses or side effects after eating GMS, but just didn’t know it? How would one tell the difference between a natural salmon and a GMS (the size might be an indicator)? More and more I am so glad I’ve endeavored to grow my own veggies. Now I want a farm because I just don’t trust the FDA or the USDA to really protect the American people from the Food Industry.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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