FDA Clears Bioengineered Fish Despite Opposition by Environmentalists

FDA clears frankenfishThe U.S. Federal Drug Administration has cleared the way for a new genetically engineered fish – dubbed the ‘frankenfish’ by many – to be introduced to the public for human consumption despite opposition by more than 300 environmental groups and a number of congressmen. The fish has been suspected in causing higher rates of allergies and digestive disorders.

The FDA’s announcement called for a 60-day review period before the GMO salmon could be released for sale, to allow the public to comment.

The AquaAdvantage salmon, developed by AquaBounty, is genetically engineered to grow faster. An Atlantic salmon was transplanted with a gene from the Pacific Chinook salmon that produces growth hormones throughout the year. Another gene was transplanted from the eel-like ocean pout, which switches the hormone gene on.

Because there are no labeling requirements informing consumers they are eating genetically modified foods, consumers won’t be able to tell the difference between one of these ‘frankenfish’ salmon and an unmodified Atlantic salmon.

“This is especially troubling as the agency is ignoring the opposition by salmon and fishing groups, as well as more than 300 environmental, consumer and health organizations,” Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told the Associated Press. Sen. Murkowski is working with others to stop the final approval.

Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, who has introduced GMO labeling legislation into Congress every year since 1997, stated, “now this latest action by the FDA somehow determined that the salmon is safe — safe for who? Safe for the investors?”

Allergies and other digestive issues that have been considered in other GE food research has not been proven in the GE salmon. However, all the GMO salmon testing so far has been done by AquaBounty.

The issue with allergies is whether the genetic modification will produce new proteins that are not recognized by the human body when eaten. Portugal National Institute of Health researchers found that genetically modified corn produced five allergens. While the gene from the Pacific Chinook in itself may not produce foreign proteins, the new combination, together with the eel-fish pout gene, could conceivably produce “novel proteins” according to researchers.

The FDA has said the fish is environmentally safe, but environmentalists strongly disagree. Many are concerned about the fish being accidentally released into the wild and cross-breading with other fish.

The company says the fish are primarily sterile, although some would still be able to reproduce.

Learn more about food allergies.

Written by Case Adams, Naturopath

REFERENCES:

Associated Press. FDA says ‘frankenfish’ salmon would not harm environment, clears way for approval. Washington Post, Business. 2013 Jan 2.

Fonseca C, Planchon S, Renaut J, Oliveira MM, Batista R. Characterization of maize allergens – MON810 vs. its non-transgenic counterpart. J Proteomics. 2012 Apr 3;75(7):2027-37.

Taylor SL, Hefle SL. Will genetically modified foods be allergenic? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 May;107(5):765-71.

Guidelines for the regulation of genetically engineered animals. Reprod Fertil Dev. 2012 Dec;25(1):322.

Poulsen LK. Allergy assessment of foods or ingredients derived from biotechnology, gene-modified organisms, or novel foods. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2004 Nov;48(6):413-23.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.