The FDA is about to approve the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption. AquaAdvantage salmon have added genes from Pacific Chinook salmon and an eel-like fish called an ocean pout that allow the salmon to grow twice as quickly (1).
The FDA and Center for Veterinary Medicine have affirmed the safety of GE salmon (2). The problem is that the FDA is regulating GE salmon as an “animal drug” rather than a new food product, drastically limiting the safety tests it must undergo (3). GE salmon have increased levels of IGF-1, which is a known carcinogen (4).
Equally disturbing, the FDA report does not assess how the salmon would affect the environment in which it is raised, because the actual farming will take place in Canada and Panama (5). The GE salmon grow twice as fast as wild salmon, and eat five times as much food (6). If the GE salmon were to escape, they would lead to the complete extinction of wild salmon within 40 fish generations. AquaAdvantage has sterilized the fish to try to prevent this, but 5-10% of sterilized fish are still fertile (7).
The FDA is now allowing a 60-day public comment period on GMO salmon. Please submit your comment to the FDA, and urge all of your family and friends to do the same. This is a watershed moment that could set a disastrous precedent.
On February 9th, FFAC Director Katie Cantrell spoke at a rally against GMO salmon in San Francisco. You can listen to KPFA’s coverage of the event starting at 11:03, and Katie’s commentary at 14:05.
1. Center for Veterinary Medicine, US Food and Drug Administration. Environmental Assessment for AquaAdvantage Salmon. August 25, 2010.
2. Mestel, Rosie. Genetically Engineered Salmon Moves Closer to FDA Approval. Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2012. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/21/science/la-sci-genetically-engineered-salmon-fda-20121222
3. LeVaux, Ari. Genetically modified super salmon tries to swim through a hole in the regulatory net. Monterey County Weekly, January 17, 2013. http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/2013/jan/17/health-fitness-2013-fish-drugs/
4. Rosenberg, Martha. Is the Fast-Growing AquaAdvantage Salmon Safe to Eat? Foodconsumer, December 6, 2012. http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Safety/gmo/aquadvantage_salmon_1205120942.html
5. Pollack, Andrew. Engineered Fish Moves a Step Closer to Approval. New York Times, December 21, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/business/gene-altered-fish-moves-closer-to-federal-approval.html
6. Sesana, Laura. Frankenfish: Genetically Engineered Salmon Close to FDA Approval. Washington Times, February 2, 2013. http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/world-our-backyard/2013/feb/2/frankenfish-genetically-engineered-salmon-close-wi/
7. Genetically Engineered Salmon. Ocean Conservancy, http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/aquaculture/aquaculture-genetically.html