FDA Considers Approval of GE Salmon–the First GE Food Animal–Yet
Fails to Inform the Public of Environmental and Economic Risks
August 27, 2010
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT, from:
CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY
FOOD AND WATER WATCH
SALMONAID- NORTHWEST ATLANTIC MARINE ALLIANCE
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
THE LIVING OCEANS SOCIETY
SMALL BOAT COMMERCIAL SALMON FISHERMEN?S ASSOCIATION
THE GEORGIA STRAIT ALLIANCE
CALIFORNIANS FOR GE-FREE AGRICULTURE
THE ORGANIC & NON-GMO REPORT
PLANETARY HEALTH, INC.
SAY NO TO GMOS!
CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
CANADIAN BIOTECHNOLOGY ACTION NETWORK
INSTITUTE FOR FISHERIES RESOURCES
AMERICAN ANTI-VIVISECTION SOCIETY
PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION OF FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATION MANGROVE ACTION PROJECT
FOOD FIRST / INSTITUTE FOR FOOD AND DEVELOPMENT POLICY
EDEN FOODS, INC.
THE NON-GMO PROJECT
NORTHWEST RESISTANCE AGAINST GENETIC ENGINEERING
PCC NATURAL MARKETS
GLOUSTER FISHERMEN?S WIVES ASSOCIATION
FRESH THE MOVIE
WASHINGTON BIOTECHNOLOGY ACTION COUNCIL
OREGON PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Washington, DC August 27, 2010
A coalition of 31 consumer, animal
welfare and environmental groups, along with commercial and
recreational fisheries associations and food retailers submitted a
joint statement criticizing an announcement this week by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) that it will potentially approve the
long-shelved AquAdvantage transgenic salmon as the first genetically
engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption.
The engineered Atlantic salmon being considered was developed by
AquaBounty Technologies, which artificially combined growth hormone
genes from an unrelated Pacific salmon,(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) with
DNA from the anti-freeze genes of an eelpout (Zoarces americanus).
This modification causes production of growth-hormone year-round,
creating a fish the company claims grows at twice the normal rate.
This could allow factory fish farms to crowd fish into pens and still
get high production rates.
Each year millions of farmed salmon escape from open-water net pens,
outcompeting wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems.
“We believe any approval of GE salmon would represent a serious threat
to the survival of native salmon populations, many of which have
already suffered severe declines related to salmon farms and other man-
made impacts,” Marianne Cufone, director of Food and Water Watch’s
fish program said.
If the FDA opens this door, GE fish will likely be among the millions of salmon that currently escape from open ocean pens every year.
This could be the last blow to wild salmon stocks and in turn the thousands
of men and women who depend on fishing for their livelihoods.
“Approving genetically engineered salmon is a sharp contradiction to
the agreements the United States has signed at NASCO, where transgenic
salmonids are considered a serious threat to wild salmon” said Boyce
Thorne Miller, Science and Policy Coordinator for the Northwest
Atlantic Marine Alliance and accredited observer at the North Atlantic
Salmon Conservation Organization.
Escaped GE salmon can pose an additional threat – genetic pollution
resulting from what scientists call the “Trojan gene” effect.
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences notes that a release of just sixty GE salmon into a wild
population of 60,000 would lead to the extinction of the wild
population in less than 40 generations.
Anticipating the stark danger to our fisheries and ocean environments
– and trying to circumvent analyses of those dangers – AquaBounty has
claimed that they will only raise their fish in land-based
facilities. However most salmon farmers in the real world ply their
trade in low-lying coastal areas and competing corporations will no
doubt race to produce GE fish in crowded open ocean facilities already
in use for fish production. Backsliding on its original claims,
reports have circulated that AquaBounty may only suggest producers
raise GE fish in “inland waters” – presenting novel threats to our
nation’s lakes, rivers, and estuaries – many of which are already
under attack by invasive fish species like the Asian carp and Northern
“FDA’s decision to go ahead with this approval process is misguided
and dangerous, and is made worse by its complete lack of data to
review” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for
Food Safety. “FDA has been sitting on this application for 10 years
and yet it has chosen not to disclose any data about its decision
until just a few days before the public meeting.”
On Wednesday, FDA officials announced that they had begun the approval
process for the engineered salmon and have scheduled public meetings
beginning Sunday, September 19. Speakers wishing to present oral
comments are expected to submit their requests in writing by September 7th; one day after the FDA has said it may post “some” of the data to its website. “This is not a process that leads to full and informed public participation,” said Charles Margulis, Sustainable Food Program Coordinator for the Center for Environmental Health.
FDA announced the same day that it will hold a public comment period
and a hearing on labeling for the transgenic salmon, which seems to
presuppose that the controversial GE fish will be approved. If the GE
fish is approved, Agency officials are undecided as to whether they
will require any product labeling.
“We all know there is a great appetite for salmon, but the solution is
not to “farm” genetically engineered versions to put more on our
dinner tables; the solution is to work to bring our wild salmon
populations back” said Jonathan Rosenfield, PhD, a Conservation
Biologist and President of the SalmonAID Foundation, a 28-member
coalition of commercial, tribal, and sportfishing interests,
conservation organizations and chefs. “The approval of these
transgenic fish will only exacerbate the problems facing our wild
George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety: 571-527-8618
Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety: 202-547-9359 (w); 703-231-5956
Marianne Cufone, Food and Water Watch: 202-683-2511
Niaz Dorry, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance: 508-982-3748
Jonathan Rosenfield, PhD, SalmonAID Foundation: 510-684-4757
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext.6
Fax: 613 241 2506
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