GM salmon opponents rally at White House

Published on
September 16, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration’s potential approval of genetically modified (GM) salmon has brought together a variety of groups and companies to oppose the fish eggs. Last week, the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Ben & Jerry’s and other groups held a rally outside the White House. The groups demanded that the Obama Administration halt FDA approval of GM salmon. A representative of Ben & Jerry’s announced at the event that the company is changing the name of its “Phish Food” ice cream to “Something’s Fishy,” to protest the approval of GM salmon.

“The FDA must deny approval of this modified fish to protect the environment, public health, fishing communities and biodiversity,” said Eric Hoffman, biotechnology policy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, one of the groups at the rally.

The FDA has already determined that Waltham, Mass.-based biotech firm AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage salmon is safe for human consumption, but has not issued final approval of the AquAdvantage fish eggs. The FDA’s Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee is reviewing data on the safety and efficacy of the technology, from 19 through 20 September. On 21 September, the FDA will hold a public hearing on food labeling of GM salmon.

Opposing groups say that the AquAdvantage salmon has not been proven safe for human consumption and for wild fisheries. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) also recently called GM salmon “Frankenfish” and said its potential approval for human consumption is “unprecedented, risky and a threat to the survival of wild species.”

The opposing groups say that, despite AquaBounty’s claim that it produces only sterile fish eggs, up to 5 percent of its eggs could be fertile. While AquaBounty CEO Dr. Ron Stotish says that the GM eggs will only be sold to aquaculture farms on land, the groups believe that the salmon may mix with other fish in the wild.

“The FDA has no rules requiring that AquaBounty, and the thousands of fish farmers who would receive their product, raise the fish on land. Millions of farmed salmon escape into the wild each year,” said Food & Water Watch.

The groups also claim that no long-term and independent studies have been conducted to assess human health risks — such as allergies — associated with eating transgenic fish.

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Contributing Editor



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