Last October we reported that the Food and Drug Administration was expected to approve AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon despite substantial opposition. AquaBounty, based in Massachusetts, claims its salmon is safe for consumption and for the environment, even though their GM brand of salmon has been spliced with a growth hormone gene forcing it to grow up to five times faster than normal.
An additional concern — among many others — is that genetically modified salmon are a potential threat to naturally wild Atlantic salmon currently on the Endangered Species List.
Some experts claim GM salmon pose far too great a risk to wild salmon. “Once you have bombarded an animal with other genes, the DNA is unstable, and there is no guarantee these GM fish remain sterile. A fish that grows that quickly is likely to lose some of its environmental benefits.”
Despite these serious concerns, in recent hearings on transgenic fish, the FDA knowingly withheld a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“This adds further evidence that in fact GE salmon pose a serious threat to marine environments and is another compelling reason for the FDA not to approve the fish for commercial use,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. “While the FDA applauded the company’s choice of land-based containment as responsible, it never revealed that it is illegal in the U.S. to grow genetically engineered salmon in open-water net pens.”
As The Center For Food Safety (CFS) points out, despite this knowledge, the FDA has not consulted in depth with the expert fisheries agencies regarding the current Aquabounty GE salmon.
The documents released by CFS also include an email from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which further revealed that:
“Shortly after the Atlantic salmon was listed as endangered, several of us from USFWS and NMFS spent 2 days down in Maryland meeting with Aqua Bounty and FDA about development of genetically modified salmon and discussion around the need for FDA to engage in Section 7 consultation with the Services. We never heard a peep out of FDA or Aqua Bounty after that.”
In 2008, the FDA was involved in another cover-up involving toxic melamine in US baby formula. The FDA collected nearly 100 samples of infant formula made by U.S. manufacturers, then held a conference call to alert the manufacturers of their findings but withheld the test results from the public; they only released the results after the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request, revealing that Nestle, Mead Johnson and Enfamil infant formula products were all contaminated with melamine.
The FDA also has a history of intimate ties with the pharmaceutical industry; the agency approved unsafe and ineffective medicine for market from Ranbaxy Laboratories, even while Ranbaxy was being investigated by Congress.
For the growing segment of the population paying attention, the FDA has long since lost credibility as an agency that even remotely has in the interest of public health and safety in mind — the agency is merely a deceptive public relations front for powerful corporations guaranteed complete freedom and authority to lie, steal, cheat, and violate the public at large for profit and gain.