FDA Clears Bioengineered Fish Despite Opposition by Environmentalists
The 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.
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
Associated Press. FDA says ‘frankenfish’ salmon would not harm environment, clears way for approval. Washington Post, Business. 2013 Jan 2.
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