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September 10th, 2010

Ten Reasons to Reject a Suspicious Fish

The FDA is uncomfortably close to approving AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage® GE salmon for our kitchen tables, and they are trying to move the process along rather quickly. While the agency is downplaying the potential dangers of bringing GE salmon to market, there are legitimate concerns that every consumer should consider. Proponents of genetically modified food might attempt to distract consumers by making false claims and empty reassurances. Here are ten reasons why the FDA should stop the application process to approve GE salmon for human consumption.

The FDA is close to approving genetically engineered salmon for our plates, but here are ten reasons to stop them.

1.    The FDA’s data is one-sided. Critical studies that were given “primary deference,” according to the FDA, were conducted by AquaBounty Technologies or their contractors. No independent studies have been conducted, nor has the FDA conducted their own research.
2.    The FDA continues to fail us when it comes to food safety. We need a safe food system more than we need genetically engineered food, particularly in the wake of one of the largest food recalls in history. The FDA should commit its already slim resources to ensuring the safety of our current food system.
3.    AquaBounty’s claims are misleading and contradictory. AquaBounty states that GE salmon could never interact with wild salmon populations — an occurrence that would endanger wild fish populations and a claim that would be impossible to ensure since salmon escapes are typical in open ocean aquaculture. AquaBounty contradicts this claim in their own environmental assessment by acknowledging, “No single containment measure can be assured of 100% effectiveness.” The FDA has sited that these claims are “potentially misleading.”
4.    Consumers don’t want it. More than 60 percent of consumers polled by Consumer Reports National Research Center said they would not buy meat or milk products from GE animals. Nearly 80 percent of consumers from a recent Washington Post user poll said they would not eat GE salmon due to potential health and environmental risks.
5.    FDA is treating GE salmon as a drug, not food. FDA plans to regulate GE salmon as a veterinary drug, not food. If GE salmon is being treated like a drug, than it is obviously not exactly the same as wild salmon, as the FDA claims.
6.    Lack of transparency. Treating GE salmon like a drug is a loophole that enables the FDA to effectively approve it in secret since approval of new drugs requires confidentiality. This lack of transparency regarding a controversial food product should make consumers wary.
7.    If GE salmon is approved, the gates immediately open for other GE foods and clones. All eyes are on AquaBounty right now, but there are many more companies like them waiting to see if GE salmon gets the go-ahead — companies that are trying to approve GE pigs and cloned animals for the marketplace.
8.    15 years of closed research, yet the public only has a few weeks to weigh in. The FDA has spent 15 years working with AquaBounty to create a regulatory process for genetically engineered animals behind closed doors. They expect the public to read and process their data in just a couple of weeks before the approval process moves forward. If they have truly conducted thorough research, they should provide more time for the public sector to weigh in.
9.    GE salmon threatens the environment. Up to five percent of AquaBounty’s GE salmon eggs could potentially be fertile. If GE salmon mate with wild fish or compete with natural populations, the results could be devastating.
10.   Inconclusive studies. The FDA doesn’t truly know if GE salmon is safe for human consumption. They do not have the capacity to determine its safety and the testing that has been conducted has not included potential impacts and risks on human health or the environment.

If there is any doubt in our minds concerning the potentially negative impact GE salmon could have on our health and environment, it is our responsibility to do something about it now. This is a critical issue that deserves attention from a well-informed public. Until we have enough information, we need to stop the FDA from approving GE salmon.

-Rich Bindell

3 Comments on Ten Reasons to Reject a Suspicious Fish

  1. Frankenfish…

    Have you heard? The FDA may approve a genetically engineered salmon that will grow to full size in 18 months instead of 3 years. Safety data is limited, but regardless, this may end up in our restaurants, grocery stores, and ultimately on our plates. T…

  2. Kirby Carmichael says:

    Fertile diploid transgenic salmon will actually grow to maturity in fresh waters in 6-7 months according to AquaBounty’s Environmental Assessment. The fertile diploid fish grow over twice as fast as the triploid transgenics that AquaBounty attempts to limit the discussion to.

    Completely mature salmon at 6 months will raise the possibility that they will devastate the freshwater environments in which they spawn. They eat much more food much faster, they use a far greater amount of dissolved oxygen, and they seek food in a greater variety of places than native salmon.

    AquaBounty refuses to study these issues, claiming their fish are sterile and can’t escape into the wild. 1-5% of hatched eggs are fertile, and hatchlings can certainly be introduced into wild habitats. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  3. Tony says:

    I will not eat GE/GMO fish or any other animal for that matter if it passes.

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