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Panel Leans in Favor of Engineered Salmon
September 21, 2010, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Source: NY Times Sept 20th 2010

It looks like concerned citizens are losing the battle against the introduction of the first Genetically Modified Salmon that is pumped with Growth Hormones to allow it to continue to grow during the colder winter months.

I don’t know about you but I would rather pay a little more or eat a little less to get some fresh Salmon WITHOUT growth hormones… Sometimes I am amazed to the length some people will go to to make more money faster. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for making money. But when it comes to the point where we are injecting growth hormones into our own food, it does not take a genius to realize that this can NOT be good for your health in the near or long term…

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The article from the NY Times:

Members of a federal advisory committee on Monday seemed to conclude that genetically engineered super-salmon would be safe to eat and for the environment, but they also found gaps in the studies used to support that conclusion.

The committee met here to advise the Food and Drug Administration on whether to approve what would be the first genetically engineered animal to enter the American food supply.

The Atlantic salmon, which would be raised on farms, contain an extra growth hormone gene that allows them to grow to marketable size about twice as fast as conventional fish.

Committee members, who were not asked to vote on whether the fish should be approved, did not point out anything about the fish that would seem dangerous, despite one study suggesting a possible increase in the potential to cause allergic reactions. They said the chance the fish would escape into the wild was low.

“They didn’t see any glaring holes” in the data, Gregory A. Jaffe of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who was the consumer representative on the committee, said after the meeting ended.

Still some panel members did say the studies the F.D.A. relied on to reach its own conclusion that the salmon would be safe were flawed, often using only a few dozen fish or even fewer.

“I do get heartburn when we’re going to allow post-market surveillance to finalize our safety evaluation,” said one committee member, Michael D. Apley, a pharmacology expert at Kansas State University.

The criticisms could add to the time needed to approve the salmon. It could also provide grist for consumer and environmental groups, many of which testified on Monday that the salmon should not be approved.

Approval of the salmon could pave the way for other such biotech animals to enter the food supply, like a pig developed in Canada that has more environmentally friendly manure.

The results could also influence other countries. Eric Hallerman, a fisheries expert at Virginia Tech, told the committee that fast-growing versions had already been developed for 18 different types of fish in various countries.

The salmon contain a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a genetic switch from the ocean pout that turns on an antifreeze gene. That allows the salmon to make growth hormone in cold weather, whereas salmon usually produce it only in warm weather.

Ronald L. Stotish, the chief executive of AquaBounty Technologies, the company that developed the salmon, told the committee that its AquAdvantage salmon would help the world meet rising demand for seafood without further devastating natural fisheries. He said it would be economical to grow the fish in inland tanks in the United States, saving the cost of flying in the fish from Chile or Norway, from which the United States now gets most of its Atlantic salmon, he said.

For now, though, the company’s eggs are being hatched at a company facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada. And the fish would be grown to size in only limited quantities at a company facility in Panama.

The company said that fish would not escape because they are grown inland in facilities with containment mechanisms. If any did escape, it said, the rivers outside the Canadian and Panama facilities would be too salty or warm for the fish to survive. And the fish would all be female and almost all would be sterile, so they would not interbreed with wild salmon.

But some committee members, as well as some environmental groups, said the government’s environmental assessment should evaluate what would happen if the salmon were grown widely in many facilities.

“The F.D.A. must consider issues related to realistic production scenarios,” said Anna Zivian, a senior manager at the group Ocean Conservancy.

One test showed a possible increase in the potential to cause allergic reactions that was almost statistically significant even though only six fish were used in each group in the study.

But several committee members said the meaning of that test’s results were open to question since it was not clear what amount of increase was meaningful.

Kevin Wells, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri and a committee member, said he doubted the fish would cause extra allergies.

“The salmon contains nothing that isn’t in the human diet,” he said.

The fish are being regulated under the process used to approve veterinary drugs. The F.D.A. held a half-day session on Sunday to give the committee, made up mostly of veterinarians, a primer on genetic engineering.

Approval, if it comes, is likely to take at least several months. The F.D.A. said it would prepare an environmental assessment that would be open to comment for 30 days. If the agency decides that there could be a significant environmental impact — something that does not appear likely — it will have to do a full environmental impact statement, which could take months or years.

The F.D.A. will have a public hearing on Tuesday on whether the salmon, if approved, should be labeled.

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Say No to Frankenfish: FDA Looks To Approve Genetically Engineered Salmon
September 1, 2010, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Source: True Food Network:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on August 25, 2010, that it will potentially approve the long-shelved AquAdvantage transgenic salmon as the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption. The GE Atlantic salmon being considered was developed by AquaBounty Technologies, and genetically engineered to produce growth hormones year-round, creating a fish the company claims grows at twice the normal rate. This could allow factory fish farms to crowd the salmon into pens and still get high production rates.

We have only a short window to tell FDA to reject these GE fish
Can you send a comment today?

Each year millions of farmed salmon escape from open-water net pens, outcompeting wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems. Any approval of GE salmon would represent another 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 Atlantic salmon are already on the Endangered Species List in the U.S.; approving these GE Atlantic salmon will be the final blow to these wild stocks.

The human health impacts of eating GE fish are entirely unknown, but some scientific research raises cause for alarm: for example, some scientists have asserted that foreign growth hormones in transgenetic 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.

These GE farmed salmon will also carry with them all of the health hazards of other farmed salmon, but transgenic fish may be more susceptible to disease than fish currently grown in aquaculture facilities because transgenic fish are identified as “macro-mutants” with a reduced ability to survive.  Consequently, the amount of antibiotics given to transgenic fish may be higher than the amount currently given to farmed fish; already farmed salmon are given more antibiotics than any other livestock by weight, threatening the health of those who eat them and the continued efficacy of these antibiotics to treat human disease.

The company first applied for approval of the fish in 2001, but the Bush Administration delayed its approval until it was out of office.  Ironically, the Obama Administration, who came to office promising a more environmentally sound and transparent process, is using the Bush Administration-developed framework for the approval of genetically engineered animals. This process uses the fiction that the genetically engineered salmon is, in effect, an animal “drug.” The failure of the FDA to develop a transparent process for the approval of GE animals and instead use the secretive process of the New Animal Drug regulations means that consumers will be deprived of basic information as to the safety of these animals.

Tell the Food and Drug Administration not to approve GE salmon AND, if the Obama Administration insists on approving these genetically engineered fish, it should require the fish to be labeled when marketed to fish farmers, fish retailers and food companies, restaurants, and when marketed to consumers.

Please take action today! The hearing for approving the salmon is scheduled for Sunday, September 19, and no public comment period has been established for the approval of genetically engineered fish outside of this meeting, so this may be our only chance to oppose this dangerous approval! Only a public comment period on labeling of the GE fish has been opened.

Take action now and send a note to the FDA