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article imageOp-Ed: FDA bypasses public — Genetically engineered salmon approved

By Karen Graham     Nov 19, 2015 in Food
Going against widespread opposition, and not even bothering to do an environmental impact study, our Food and Drug Administration has pushed genetically engineered salmon on the American public.
On Thursday morning, the FDA announced it had declared genetically engineered salmon was fit for human consumption, giving final approval for AquAdvantage salmon to find its way into our supermarkets and restaurants.
According to the FDA's Consumer Update, "AquAdvantage salmon is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious." Like it or not, but genetically modified fruits, vegetables and grains are commonplace these days, but the AquAdvantage salmon will be the first genetically modified animal to get FDA approval in the U.S.
The FDA raised the ire of many consumer and environmental groups over the way the assessment of genetically engineered salmon was handled. The agency did an environmental assessment rather than go to the trouble of doing an environmental impact statement, which is much more thorough.
The agency failed to consider studies done by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans that found "AquaBounty's GMO salmon are more susceptible to certain disease-causing bacteria and are displaying inconsistent growth rates and other performance parameters."
The results of the study showed "that the growth-hormone gene construct inserted in the fish is not operating in a predictable manner, raising questions about the durability, safety and commercial viability of [GMO] salmon, the Center for Food Safety said in May.
The Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society partnered together in challenging Environment Canada's decision to approve genetically modified Atlantic salmon eggs in Ottawa Federal Court on Tuesday this week. The details of the lawsuit were covered in Digital Journal on November 15.
But the biggest concern about AquAdvantage salmon is in the labeling, or possibly, the lack of labeling. The FDA apparently is not going to worry about consumer interests over labeling GM foods and says it's "up to the sellers of these fish to voluntarily decide whether they choose to label their product as genetically engineered."
The whole procedure used by the FDA to approve this "frankenfish," as some Alaska lawmakers call it, and the fact that the public will have no way of knowing if they are buying a genetically modified fish, is nothing less than a slap in the face to consumers nationwide, and this is not right.
It is good to hear that Trader Joe's, Aldi and Whole Foods, as well as a number of regional retailers have already pledged to not sell AquAdvantage salmon. Now, the public needs to voice their opposition by letting retailers like Costco, Krogers, Walmart and Safeway know that we will not purchase these fish. At the very least, as consumers, we have the right to know what we are buying, and the right to not buy products we don't believe are safe.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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