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GM Salmon: The Debate Continues

US - At the recent Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, expert and public comments on genetically modified (GM) salmon were submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its consideration.

The VMAC meeting was followed by a public hearing on 21 September 2010 on the labeling of food made from AquAdvantage® Salmon. The FDA concluded that, if the agency approves the product, a decision will be made on labeling requirements. There is now a 60 day open period for public comment on this topic.

Dr. Ronald Stotish, President and CEO of AquaBounty, commented: “We have completed two more steps in the approval process for our AquAdvantage® Salmon. The meetings have demonstrated how the application of our technology will enable the safe and sustainable production of a high quality fish that is no different in composition from other farmed Atlantic salmon. We now await the completion of the deliberative process and the formal decision of the FDA.”

Despite this, there is still massive public resistance. US Alaskan Senator, Mark Begich, along with a number of other organisations has sent a letter to the FDA today opposing the approval of GM salmon.

“There are a number of serious concerns with the current approval process and many potential human health and environmental risks that are associated with producing GE fish have not been fully or openly reviewed,” the letter states.

“Critical information has been kept from the public and consequently, only FDA and AquaBounty know important details about the approval process for this GE salmon, or the product itself.”

The letter questions the FDA’s review process for a genetically-engineered animal intended as a human food product, saying the FDA should not be using the same process it uses for reviewing a new drug to be used for animals, when the end product is an animal to be eaten by humans.

“Clearly this is inappropriate. Creation of a new genetically engineered species should be not be treated as an animal drug issue but undergo formal evaluation by FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to review the product’s potential health effects on humans,” the letter says.

The letter further questions the transparency of the FDA process, potential damage to the environment, potential harm to wild salmon, and a number of other concerns.

A study carried out on 20th September 2010, says that of all those who took part in the survey, 78 per cent do not want GM salmon approved without more research.

the Fish Site Editor

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