The FDA has cleared the way for the first approval of a genetically engineered animal for human consumption, claiming genetically engineered salmon that grows twice as fast as normal is not a threat to the environment.
Opponents argue the GM salmon will be the start of concerted efforts to create other GM animals for human consumption, raising serious questions about animal and human welfare.
The FDA’s approval is based exclusively on the limited and inadequate studies conducted by AquaBounty Technologies, and approval was blocked by Congress last year over serious health and environmental concerns.
But the FDA is under pressure from FDA-backed biotech giant and creator of the GM fish, AquaBounty, and is spearheading a fast track move to release the genetically modified salmon into the world so that AquaBounty won’t lose investors and begin generating a return on its investment.
“Since its founding in 1991, AquaBounty has burned through more than $67 million developing the fast-growing fish. According to its midyear financial report, the company had less than $1.5 million in cash and stock left. It has no other products in development.”
Despite AquaBounty’s claims that their genetically engineered fish will be only be grown as sterile females and kept in secure containers on land, opponents argue GM salmon could escape into the wild, interbreed with wild fish and undermine the genetics of the endangered Atlantic salmon.
As investigative journalist Anthony Gucciardi points out, “These fish threaten the very genetic integrity of the food chain considering that they will ultimately be unleashed into waters with other salmon and likely even the ocean at large.”
Hybrid salmon mutations may never be tracked, and continue to repopulate for generations. And predators of GM salmon may develop and pass on various health problems.
The FDA has no intention of labeling AquaBounty’s GM salmon, claiming there’s no material difference between the flesh of the GM fish and the flesh of regular farm-raised Atlantic salmon, so they aren’t required to be labeled separately.
We can expect unlabeled GM salmon on dinner tables by 2014, and consumers will have absolutely no clue as to whether the salmon they buy is genetically modified.