In June, Helena Bottemiller with Food Safety news reported that the House approved an amendment by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) barring the FDA from spending money to approve an application for AquaBounty’s GE [genetically engineered] salmon.
Bottemiller points out that if the FDA approves the GE fish, it would be the first GE animal approved for human consumption. The measure passed the Republican-controlled House by voice vote.
According to Botemiller, Congressional members on both sides from several key salmon states have signed bills to block the Frankensalmon, but the Senate has not yet voted on the matter.
According to FISHupdate.com, a group of US House and Senate lawmakers penned a letter to the FDA urging it to not approve the GE fish, citing serious economic and environmental concerns.
In their letter, senators from salmon fishing states said: “Given the strong and growing congressional opposition to the approval of GE fish in both chambers, spending time on further review of GE fish would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. The FDA hasn’t considered all of the potential negative impacts of genetically-altered fish and the strong opposition in Congress to approving something that could decimate wild salmon populations.”
In late July, AquaBounty’s CEO went on a counteroffensive: “We remain confident that the more deliberative body of the Senate will refrain from interfering in the 15 year scientific review by the U.S. FDA,” said Ronald L. Stotish, president and chief executive officer of AquaBounty Technologies.
Stotish continues: “The real waste of tax-payer dollars would be to abandon the important American principle of science-based regulation, responding instead to economic protectionist fears or subjective and emotional judgments,” said Stotish. “This is an issue greater than our application, an issue of American leadership in technology, innovation, and science-based regulation.”
The science-based regulation Stotish refers to is nothing but sleazy, gimcrack pop-science funded by none other than AquaBounty itself, and presented to an FDA approval panel comprised of a bunch of sycophantic GE cheerleaders.
According to Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist with Consumers Union, “The company [AquaBounty] did incredibly small sample sizes in their studies. They made the kinds of mistakes that you would expect a freshman in high schoolnot a PhD fishery scientistto make in research design. The largest sample size of the fish being proposed as food, examined for morphology, was 12 animals. They found that the skeletons are worse than in normal farmed salmon, that their jaws are eroded more than in normal farmed salmon, that their gills are enlarged and that their flesh is inflamed. But they say that it’s OK to eat.
“When they looked for possible allergic reactions, they examined 6 fish. The kind they’re proposing be sold as food is a sterile variety, which they compared to a genetically engineered fertile variety. The FDA said, The allergic effects of the fertile one looked bad enough to keep it off the market, but the sterile one is okay.’ Well, this is sick fish, and the sample size is so small you can’t possibly say yes or no”
Inferior Flavor and Low Nutritional Value
Hanson claims AquaBounty’s GE Salmon has inferior flavor and low nutritional value:
“By the company’s own data, this fish has less omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than regular farmed salmon in worse ratios. It tastes insipid. When you compare ordinary farm salmon to wild salmon, it doesn’t taste as good because it doesn’t have the fats that give the fish that good taste. The genetically modified salmon is not going to taste as good as even regular farm salmon. So basically everything you eat salmon for, it doesn’t have, or it’s got less of than any other kind of salmon”
The AquaBounty friendly FDA was exposed in a cover-up when in last year’s hearings on transgenic fish, the FDA knowingly withheld a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In August, Colin O’Neil with Food Safety News had this to say:
“FDA’s approval process under the 2009 provisions lacks transparency, public engagement and the regulatory and scientific rigor necessary to assess the full suite of novel human health, environmental, animal welfare and socioeconomic risks.
“Instead of criticizing Congressional efforts to correct this, we should be asking why an agency with neither expertise in fisheries nor environmental risk assessments is tasked to review and assess GE fish.”
The fact is, the risks are too great, the public doesn’t want GE salmon, and the FDA will not require AquaBounty’s Frankenfish to be labeled.
But alas, in early May, the California Assembly Health Committee approved a bill [AB 88] requiring that all GMO salmon sold in California contain clear and prominent labeling.
Hopefully, the passage of California’s labeling bill will ultimately have a tremendous impact on FDA federal labeling policy nationwide regarding GE food. In the meantime, the battle continues.