Quantcast

Nearly 2 Million Tell FDA: Deny GE Salmon

Health + Wellness

Food Democracy Now!

Last week, more than 1.8 million people sent comments vehemently opposing the approval of a genetically engineered (GE) salmon by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The effort was driven by a broad coalition organized over three years ago by the Center for Food Safety and consisting of public interest, consumer, environmental and animal protection groups, along with commercial and recreational fisheries associations and food businesses and retailers. 

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product through a broken regulatory system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. “The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value; it’s bad for the consumer, bad for the environment, and bad for our native salmon.”

The FDA first announced that it was considering the approval of a GE salmon in August 2010. If approved, it would be the first-ever GE animal permitted for human consumption in the U.S. Friday marked the close of a 120-day comment period on a revised draft environmental assessment for the GE salmon, which has remained a concern for consumers and Congress alike. 

“The fact that the consideration of AquaBounty’s GE salmon has gotten this far is a sign of how broken the current U.S. regulatory structure actually is,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “If GMO salmon is approved, it sets a dangerous precedent and will be a new low for the Obama Administration in their failure to properly protect the American public and our food supply.”

In addition, documents disclosed on Friday through a Freedom of Information Act request raise serious questions about the adequacy of the FDA’s review of the AquAdvantage salmon application. Among other things, while the FDA has refused to look at the environmental impacts of these GE fish beyond the Canadian and Panamanian facilities proposed in the application, it appears that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already received requests to import AquAdvantage salmon eggs into the U.S. for commercial production.

“Like FDA's food safety analysis, the environmental analysis leaves many questions unanswered, and includes numerous, highly-questionable and unsubstantiated assumptions,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist at Consumers Union. “The decision on this fish is precedent setting; given the inadequacies of this document, a full EIS, including a failure-mode analysis that looks at the possibility of fish escapes, must be performed."

The groups responsible for organizing the more than 1.8 million comments were Avaaz, Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, MoveOn, Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now!, Credo, Consumers Union, Just Label It, Farm Sanctuary, Cascadia Wildlands, Earthjustice, American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS), Institute for Responsible Technology and the Alliance for Natural Health–USA

"The public has spoken, loud and clear: There is simply no need for GE salmon," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "It's time for FDA to put an end to this regulatory mess and admit that the environmental and public health risks are too big to approve this controversial product."

On Wednesday, 12 Senators led by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and 21 representatives led by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) sent letters to the FDA urging it to halt its approval until their economic, regulatory and environmental concerns are addressed. The Congressional letters come just months after an amendment offered by Sen. Begich to the Senate Budget Resolution passed by voice vote in favor of the labeling of GE fish. 

In addition to Congressional attention, the FDA received joint letters from major groups and businesses reflecting broad public opposition to GE salmon. A joint letter was submitted by CEOs of major environmental organizations including American Rivers, Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Conservancy and Sierra Club. Led by the AAVS, 22 animal protection organizations joined another letter to FDA opposing GE salmon, as did a number of religious groups.

 

 

"The AquAdvantage salmon studies, by their very design, underreport or fail to detect health problems and abnormalities in the fish. Yet we know that genetic engineering is fraught with failures and unintended consequences, and preliminary findings indicate that GE salmon are prone to deformities and may be more susceptible to disease,” said Nina Mak, research analyst with AAVS. “It is deeply concerning that FDA would release this still-experimental technology into the environment." 

A variety of other groups also have voiced their opposition to GE salmon, including several indigenous groups. Citing numerous fisheries and economic concerns, more than 250 businesses, individuals, public interest groups and fisheries organizations, representing the commercial and recreational fishing industries across the U.S., joined a letter to FDA, including the Alaska Trollers Association, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association and Alaska Marine Conservation Council.  

“U.S. fishermen take seriously the job of delivering a wholesome, sustainable, high quality product to market,” said Dale Kelly, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association. “Applying such invasive technology to a food fish has not been adequately studied for its impacts on human health, the environment or American jobs.”

The market has already started to reject GE salmon. Supermarket chains with more than 2,500 grocery stores across the county have committed not to sell GE seafood should it come to market and 260 chefs across the country have signed on to a letter by Chefs Collaborative objecting to the transgenic fish.

“We don’t believe this engineered salmon is either healthful or sustainable,” says Trudy Bialic of Puget Consumers Co-op Markets in Seattle, Washington. “We won’t sell it.” 

“The FDA process is obviously flawed, and already the market is rejecting genetically engineered salmon,” said Eric Hoffman with Friends of the Earth. “The vast majority of consumers say they won’t eat genetically engineered fish and grocery stores are rejecting it. The submission of over 1.8 million comments in opposition to genetically engineered fish is just another sign that there is no future for this fish in the U.S.”

 

 

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

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

With well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage. An economist from the University of Michigan Energy Institute says that is likely to change. Maskot / Getty Images

In 2018, there were about 5 million electric cars on the road globally. It sounds like a large number, but with well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage.

Read More
Nestlé is accelerating its efforts to bring functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions to the market and to address the global challenge of plastic packaging waste. Nestlé / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, said it will invest up to $2 billion to address the plastic waste crisis that it is largely responsible for.

Read More
Sponsored
Determining the effects of media on people's lives requires knowledge of what people are actually seeing and doing on those screens. Vertigo3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Byron Reeves, Nilam Ram and Thomas N. Robinson

There's a lot of talk about digital media. Increasing screen time has created worries about media's impacts on democracy, addiction, depression, relationships, learning, health, privacy and much more. The effects are frequently assumed to be huge, even apocalyptic.

Read More
Indigenous people of various ethnic groups protest calling for demarcation of lands during the closing of the 'Red January - Indigenous Blood', in Paulista Avenue, in São Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 31, 2019. Cris Faga / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

Rarely has something so precious fallen into such unsafe hands. Since Jair Bolsonaro took the Brazilian presidency in 2019, the Amazon, which makes up 10 percent of our planet's biodiversity and absorbs an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, has been hit with a record number of fires and unprecedented deforestation.

Read More
Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, Washington on May 12, 2017. GLENN CHAPMAN / AFP via Getty Images

Microsoft announced ambitious new plans to become carbon negative by 2030 and then go one step further and remove by 2050 all the carbon it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975, according to a company press release.

Read More