US poised to approve genetically engineered salmon, environmentalists warn
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US poised to approve genetically engineered salmon, environmentalists warn

Washington : DC : USA | Dec 31, 2012 at 8:23 PM PST
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Federal regulators are preparing to approve the sale of genetically engineered salmon without requiring labeling of the fish, a leading environmental group warned this week.

Food & Water Watch of Washington, D.C., said U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the gene-modified fish was imminent despite opposition from environmental and consumer groups

"The FDA is doing everything in its power to give American consumers a terrible holiday gift by taking the final step toward approving genetically engineered salmon, the first GE food animal," FWW's Patty Lovera said in a written statement.

"Even after countless Americans have expressed their deep concerns about this frankenfish, the FDA has turned a deaf ear moving forward with this reckless approval," Lovera said.

FWW called on Americans to urge their representatives in Congress to block the FDA's approval if it indeed comes.

The FWW statement apparently was in response to a draft assessment released by the FDA on Dec. 20 that found a company's application to raise and market gene-modified salmon raised no "significant" environmental impacts.

The draft assessment is known as a preliminary finding of no significant impact, or FONSI, and kicks off a 60-day period to submit comments to regulators after which the assessment of AquaBounty Inc.'s gene-modified salmon could presumably be made final.

AquaBounty says on its website that its so-called AquAdvantage Salmon includes a gene from Chinook salmon that allows the fish to grow twice as fast as salmon in the wild.

"AAS is an environmentally sustainable alternative to current farmed salmon." the company says.

"AAS will be grown as sterile, all-female populations in land-based facilities with redundant biological and physical containment [and] cannot escape or reproduce in the wild and pose no threat to wild salmon populations."

But Lovera called the preliminary approval "outrageous" and said the company was placing profits over public health.

"AquaBounty, the biotech company responsible for bringing us GE salmon, used its own data to convince the FDA that this fish is safe to eat," she said. "Of course they think it's safe: their profits are inextricably linked to its approval."

Comments to regulators can be submitted electronically to www.regulations.gov or by mail to the Division of Dockets
Management (HFA–305) at the Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

“Congress can still keep FDA from unleashing this dangerous experiment," said Wenonah Hauter, FWW's executive director.

"FWW will be examining legal options to force FDA to do a more thorough assessment of this new GE food animal."

Lovera requested interested citizens to write their representatives using the FWW website at http://act.foodandwaterwatch.org/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=383.

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Drying salmon fillets
Salmon filets hang on a rack by a river in Alaska. Photo: Dave Bezaire and Susi Havens-Bezire/Wikimedia Commons
Nathan Salant is based in San Francisco, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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