Thursday, September 16, 2010
The U.S. Food and Drug administration is on the brink of approving the nation's first ever genetically engineered fish for mass consumption. The fish in question is an Atlantic salmon which has been engineered by AquaBounty Technologies to contain a growth hormone gene and a genetic "on-switch" to allow the fish to grow continuously (salmon do not grow much during the winter months) so as to reach market size in 16 to 18 months, rather than the usual three years. Quite obviously, food safety and environmental groups are opposed to the potential approval citing lack of transparency in decision making by the FDA, as well as research showing that accidental release of the genetically modified salmon into the wild could potentially result in extinction of the wild salmon population in less than 40 generations. Currently, the FDA is evaluating the genetically engineered salmon as a veterinary drug, rather than as food. By doing so, the entire FDA deliberation process is held behind closed doors and much of AquaBounty's filings are considered confidential. "Critical information about the whole process has been kept from the public and organizations that focus on these issues," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, part of a coalition of 31 organizations and restaurant chefs that is demanding that the FDA deny approval of the altered fish. "There's a transparency problem." Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman, said the agency is simply following rules. "We do have obligations under the regulations to protect company confidential information," she said.
Thanks to Daily Dose
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