FDA Drops GMO Salmon Approval Bomb as Media Spins Argument and Jokes


By Heather Callaghan

Breaking! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved the first genetically engineered animal for consumption… The FDA has approved AquaBounty’s  application for AquAdvantage Salmon for the commercial food market.

The GMO salmon is a product of AquaBounty Technologies and has been hotly contested for approximately five years. The salmon uses the promoter from the antifreeze gene of other fish to increase production of growth hormone year-round, instead of seasonally like natural Atlantic salmon. It is being marketed as both sustainable and heart-healthy for the now scientifically popular omega-3 fatty acids. It is also marketed as local and “genetically enhanced” to reach the market faster than conventional farmed Atlantic salmon. It will be entirely land-farmed in Canada and Panama as opposed to being farmed in sea cages. The company says this keeps the food-grown fish from getting into the ecology; however, this also means that “a trickle of waste-water can be used by vegetable farmers and greenhouse growers, and solids filtered out of the recycled water can be used for fertilizer by gardeners.”

For awhile, both U.S. and Canadian approval for GE animals were in a standoff, and GM salmon was neck-in-neck with Enviro Pig. Enviro Pig disappeared, but has since been replaced with two other porcine front runners. The Massachusetts-based AquaBounty first approached the FDA 20 years ago.

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Consumers Union says the FDA’s nonchalant view that GMO salmon escapees were “highly unlikely” was built on “inadequate science and unfounded assumptions.”

From Washington Post:

The FDA found that the Canadian and Panamanian facilities are sited where the environmental conditions are such that, in the event of an escape, the escapees would be unlikely to thrive and establish a viable population.

Nothing the FDA has done surrounding the GMO salmon is reassuring for safety’s sake. They rely on company assurances that escapes are slim. They only require a 95% sterilization rate for the female fish that are bred for food; and AquaBounty says the rates are generally above 99 percent. Consumers Union said the research used “small sample sizes” and “inadequate analysis” and FDA doesn’t see a problem with allergies developing. Canadian environment agencies say risks are “negligible” and the risk to human health is “low.” In 2010, the FDA decided “reasonable certainty of no harm.” Last year, AquaBounty responded to watchdog groups who contested approval of the salmon by saying they were lying and had their own “perverted political agenda.” Is any of that reassuring to you?

As approval for GM salmon appeared suddenly in today’s news, the media is already protecting biotech by spinning consumers off into the argument of labeling and acting as a steam valve for consumers who are likely to be unhappy that GE salmon will be a part of the future ecology. Consumers who never had a say in the matter, that is.

…And then there’s the labeling issue. The U.S., unlike many other countries, has no requirement to label genetically modified food, and the salmon is no exception. AquaBounty CEO Ron Stotish says that when the fish is introduced some two years down the road, it will probably not be identified as genetically engineered — a decision I think is unfortunate (but more on that later). “When you’re the first and only, labeling is a dangerous decision,” he says. “We’d like to label it as a premium product, but we’ll probably introduce it as ‘Atlantic salmon.’ ”

Except that there isn’t “more on that later.” The writer of this FDA approval news goes on to say she supports labeling. She has “a concern” that the GMO salmon aren’t sustainable enough, with their use of water. What a way to deflect. The rest of the article is nothing more than a shameless plug for biotech with some wisecracks – you can expect a lot more of that from influencers in the next two years. After all, they need to work hard to convince you this highly volatile form of irresponsible technology is all for your benefit. Haters be shunned. It’s environmental, lacks a footprint, can cure you, can save money, it’s local… Nothing about the company or the FDA is in any way reassuring as far as Americans’ biggest concern goes – safety.

Here’s is Business Insider’s way of announcing the news: The government just approved the first GMO ‘Frankenfish’ — and it looks delicious

Over half of Americans say they would not buy GMO food although it does appear in 80% of packaged foods. Polls show that 91% want GMOs labelled and a majority of those want mandatory labeling. A majority believe GMOs are unsafe. While media pundits pretend to nitpick about environmental concerns and the use of water, they seem wholly unconcerned about the real danger of altering the ecology.

One slip-up is all it takes to make future wild salmon extinct and from there, who knows? The FDA has a history of using corporations’ word when it comes to the “science” backing up an unsafe practice.

This is not something to joke around about.

This article (Two New GE Pigs Want to Go To the Market) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Heather Callaghan and Natural Blaze.com.

Heather Callaghan is an independent researcher, natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com. Like at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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