Consumers and Fishing Industry Oppose FDA Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon

Posted Dec. 9, 2015

MP3 Interview with Patty Lovera, assistant director with the group Food & Water Watch, conducted by Scott Harris

salmon

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recent approval of genetically-modified salmon created by the AquaBounty company of Massachusetts, to be sold to consumers across the country, is meeting with strong opposition from consumer, environmental groups and the fishing industry. The genetically-engineered fish, known as the AquAdvantage salmon has genes from three other species including DNA from an Atlantic salmon, a growth gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon, and a growth "on switch" from an eel-like fish, the ocean pout. The sale of what some critics now call the "Frankenfish," will mark the first time that a genetically engineered animal has been approved to enter America's food system.

The AquAdvantage salmon grow twice as fast as typical native salmon species and consume about 10 percent less food, great attributes to maximize corporate profits. In early 2012, consumer groups Food and Water Watch, Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety unsuccessfully filed a petition asking the FDA to test the genetically engineered salmon as a food additive, not as a new animal drug which requires a less rigorous review. Environmental groups also urged the FDA to conduct an environmental study, citing concerns that GE salmon could escape and carry disease to and/or breed with native, wild salmon species.

But in the end, the FDA approved the sale of the AquaBounty salmon using less rigorous testing, reviewing a company study that only examined six salmon. But's what's more alarming to opponents of genetically-engineered food products is that the government won't require the labeling of these fish. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch, who explains why her group and other organizations oppose the FDA's approval of AquaBounty's GMO salmon.

Learn more about the issues of food safety, genetically engineered products and food labeling by visiting Food & Water Watch at foodandwaterwatch.org.

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