Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Do You Want to Eat Genetically Engineered Salmon?

GMO
Do You Want to Eat Genetically Engineered Salmon?

Food and Water Watch

By Tim Schwab

AquaBounty Technologies has made a desperate plea to President Obama, apparently enlisting a tiny battalion of biotech advocates to pressure the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the company’s main product, genetically engineered (GE) salmon, which has been stuck in the approval process for two years. 

AquaBounty represents the biotech industry’s avant-garde, as its fish would be the first ever GE animal to enter the food supply anywhere in the world. Biotech corporations have tremendous interest in this regulatory approval, and the main trade group (the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which is supported by groups like AquaBounty, Monsanto and Syngenta) spent $8 million last year lobbying on issues like GE salmon.

But consumers have made clear their feelings in several polls, repeatedly and overwhelmingly indicating they don’t want to eat GE salmon. And if GE salmon is eventually approved by the FDA, consumers want it labeled so they can choose to avoid it. Food & Water Watch personally delivered more than 170,000 letters from consumers to the FDA, expressing widespread opposition to GE salmon.

By contrast, AquaBounty was only able to muster about 50 names for its sign-on letter—most of them closely tied to industry, which desperately wants FDA to deregulate GE animals. The letter accuses the FDA of letting politics get in the way of what should be an independent, scientific assessment of the safety and efficacy of a biological product. In a subsequent article in the Los Angeles Times, the biotech promoters suggest that secret government forces are intentionally stalling GE salmon’s approval. 

Let’s be clear: if there’s politics at play with GE salmon, it is coming from the biotech industry, which spent $572 million dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying Congress over the last decade, trying to influence rules and regulations. 

Signers of the AquaBounty letter include corporate reps from Bumble Bee Foods, and biotech firms Arborgen, Recombinetics, Prometheus, Hematech and 5AM ventures. Also on the list were a number of academics, including University of California Professor (and former Monsanto employee) Alison Van Eenennaam, whose name is on several of the company’s patents. Van Eenennaam’s academic research and future career opportunities could benefit enormously from the approval of GE salmon. Another signatory, Penn State Professor Terry Etherton, previously teamed up with Monsanto scientists on a Monsanto-funded study determining that controversial growth hormones produced by the company are safe. 

The signatories also include the CEO of the Council for Agriculture and Science in Technology. While this sounds like a solid, independent organization, its board representatives include Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont. Similarly, the American Society of Animal Science represents a sizable “corporate sustaining membership,” including Elanco Animal Health, Archer Daniels Midland and Pfizer. And, by the way, the American Society of Animal Science is a member of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology.

Beyond this tiny echo chamber of corporate power that lavishes Congress with money to influence rules and regulations, where, indeed, are the politics? And where, in fact, is the science?

The only available science we have about GE salmon shows a fish prone to deformities and unimpressive growth rates. GE salmon also contains 40 percent higher levels of a growth hormone linked to cancer and a great potential to induce allergic reactions in consumers. Independent scientists with tremendous expertise related to GE fish—and no financial interest in the outcome—have come out on the record against it

Salmon growers have called the fish a dud, while consumers say they don’t want their children eating it. If the FDA needs a cue on what direction to take with GE salmon, it shouldn’t be looking to a letter written by investors, industry reps and academics who stand to gain financially from the decision.

Visit EcoWatch’s GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less
Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Read More Show Less