October 21, 2021

Senate Group Opposes Genetically Engineered Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon

Alaska Senator, Mark Begich, together with ten additional senators is insisting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stop the process for approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption. If approved, the genetically modified salmon would become the only genetically modified animal to gain approval as food for humans. The eleven senators recently wrote to the FDA in opposition to the proposed approval.

Sen Begich asserts that a considerable number of organizations have also contacted the FDA opposing the proposal.

The salmon in question is the Atlantic salmon which has received a growth gene from the Chinook salmon.  It also contains a gene from an eel which adds anti-freezing properties.  AquaBounty Technologies  has requested approval to produce and then market the genetically modified salmon. The FDA has currently delayed action on the approval request.

The letter from the eleven senators states:

“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 genetically engineered fish have not been fully or openly reviewed.

It continues,

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

Begich, who often refers to the genetically modified fish as “Frankenfish”, has expressed concern  about the safety of the product. He has doubts about whether the procedure for public comment was proper.

According to Begich, the letter  sent by the eleven senatorsis supported by 52 environmental and  consumer groups, retailers, food companies and fisheries associations.

Since the product under consideration is an animal developed as food for humans, the letter claims that the FDA should not rely on the same procedure it utilizes when evaluating a  drug application.

The letter states:

“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 also questions the openness of the FDA process.

The letter adds:

“We strongly urge you to stop the approval process immediately to allow for review and examination of the various concerns associated with genetically engineered animals, openly and with meaningful public input.”

According to a recent survey by the consumer group Food & Water Watch, 78% of Americans oppose the approval of the genetically engineered salmon.

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