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Frankenfish: FDA Set to Approve Genetically Modified Salmon For Consumption


Do you know what you're eating? As the FDA moves to approve consumption of the first genetically modified animal—salmon—the very real question comes up if consumers are aware of what they're putting in their mouths.

Medill Reports has more on the FDA's upcoming decision and what you can do to make your voice heard:

Consumers have until Feb. 25 to comment on the Food and Drug Administration's draft assessment determining that a modified salmon poses no threat to the environment. Comments can be made on the FDA’s website for 60 days following the draft assessment, which was issued in December. After the comment period closes, the FDA will determine whether or not to approve the fish for commercial use and consumption.

If approved, the salmon, dubbed “Frankenfish” by critics, would be the first genetically modified animal ruled legal for human consumption.

While the FDA indicated in 2010 that AquAdvantage Salmon was as safe for human consumption as farmed, conventionally raised salmon, “a final determination regarding safety of products from these fish has not yet been made,” according to FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman.

AquaBounty has struggled with the approval process as many scientists and lawmakers continue to butt heads over the test results concluding the salmon is safe to eat:

In a December 2012 statement, AquaBounty CEO and President Ronald Stotish said that his company does not have the funding to survive the regulatory limbo much longer. But the hindered approval process also impacts other businesses. Many animal-derived GMO innovations are waiting in the wings, but they need a green light on GMO salmon to open their doors to consumers.

A group of 40 scientists sent a letter to President Barack Obama last September complaining of the holdup. They said that the approval process for GMO salmon, one that ought to be guided by serious science, was instead mired in politics. In an effort to avoid further interference, the letter cautioned against what [AquaBounty CEO and President Ronald] Stotish described as “legislators’ misinformed paranoia.”

“The Administration’s often-stated commitment to sound science will only ring true if it is followed up [with] prompt regulatory action,” states the letter. “There is much more at stake here than just a fish.”

But not everyone believes that the FDA inquiry is up to snuff. Charlotte Vallaeys, director of Farm and Food Policy at the Cornucopia Institute, said that lawmakers are smart to stall because the evaluation thus far still leaves too many important questions unanswered. ...

Food safety advocates such as the Cornucopia Institute—a research-driven promoter of organic farming—are calling for more independent testing before the fish can be approved.

Critics have been frustrated for years with the FDA’s approval process—an evaluation based solely on studies the company has submitted—but concern is even more pronounced with cases involving controversial GMOs.

According to Vallaeys, when science is conducted with a profit motive in mind, the research is suspect.

Continue to read the full story. Visit to send your comments before Feb. 25.

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