Tell the FDA: NO Frankenfish!

The first genetically engineered salmon - dubbed "frankenfish" - could be in grocery stores and restaurants as early as 2014. The FDA is expected to approve AquaBounty Technologies' GE salmon after a 60-day public comment period. If approved, it will be the first approved food from a transgenic animal application to enter the U.S. food supply.

Consumer and environmental activists oppose genetically engineered "frankenfish" for many reasons, including the potential danger it poses to human health, to the environment and to the U.S. fishing economy. Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist with the Consumers Union, the advocacy and policy arm of Consumer Reports, called the FDA's Environmental Assessment (EA) of GE salmon "flawed and inadequate."

Please sign the petition below if you agree that the FDA should reject AquaBounty's genetically engineered salmon, at least until it completes further, more reliable safety testing.

What is frankenfish?

AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, created the "AquAdvantage" salmon by injecting a fragment of DNA from an ocean pout fish, which is a type of eel, along with a growth hormone gene from the Chinook Pacific salmon, into a fertilised Atlantic salmon egg. The result? A salmon that produces growth hormone year round, instead of only during warm weather. This allows the fish to reach market weight in just 18 months, instead of the usual three years.

What are the risks?

  1. Potential harm to human health. The FDA has allowed this fish to move forward based on tests of allergenicity of only six GE fish. Even with such limited testing, the results showed an increase in allergy-causing potential, according to Hansen. AquAdvantage also contains elevated levels of the growth hormone, IGF-1, which is linked to prostate, breast and colon cancers.
  2. Potential harm to wild salmon population. Only 95% of the AquAdvantage salmon may be sterile, the rest fertile. Plus, the fish at the egg production facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada, will not be sterile. The FDA says the likelihood of the GE salmon escaping into the wild is "extremely remote" but gave little reassuring evidence to support that assumption. According to studies, the frankenfish eat five times more food than wild salmon, and have less fear of predators. All it would take is for some of these frankenfish to escape, and the world's wild salmon population would be at risk.
  3. Unlabeled. Without GMO labeling, consumers will not be able to avoid frankenfish when it arrives in grocery stores and fish markets.
  4. Less nutritious. GE salmon contains less Omega-3 fatty acids than non-GE salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are the "good" fat which has important health benefits.

 Additional Background

The FDA's 158-page Environmental Assessment was completed May 14, but was blocked from release by the White House, which waited until December 21 - well after the election.

The Environmental Assessment states that genetically engineered salmon will be adapted "to feeding on synthetic aquaculture diets." The FDA didn't explain what it meant by "synthetic aquaculture" or make any investigation into what the genetically engineered salmon would eat. Conventional farmed salmon can be fed byproducts from poultry processing, such as feathers, necks and intestines, and genetically modified soy and canola.

The FDA said that AquAdvantage does not pose a threat to the environment and is "as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon." But in its 5-page summary, the agency admits that it intentionally narrowed the scope of its analysis.

Since September 2010 there has been unprecedented pushback on plans to grow an engineered variant of farmed Atlantic salmon. Over 400,000 public comments in opposition have been sent to the FDA. Forty members of Congress called for a full Environmental Impact Statement before approval was granted.

Opponents argue that approval of frankenfish will pave the way for other genetically engineered animals for human consumption, which could raise serious questions about animal welfare.

The Ocean Conservancy opposes AquAdvantage salmon.

Intrexon Corporation owns a 48-percent stake in AquaBounty, the inventor of frankenfish. Intrexon is a biotechnology company focused on the industrial engineering of synthetic biology. Intrexon designs and produces novel and enhanced biological products and processes for protein production, agricultural biotechnology and animal science. The company boasts "unprecedented control over the function and output of living cells."


FDA Misses the Boat in Signaling Approval of Genetically-Engineered Salmon by George Leonard, December 22, 2012

Ready to Eat: The First GM Fish for the Dinner Table, by Steve Connor

FDA Quietly Pushes Through Genetically Modified Salmon over Christmas Break by Anthony Gucciardi

The Apocalypse is Here: FDA Clears Way for Fast-Growing GE Monster Salmon, by Susie Cagle

CU Says FDA Assessment of GE Salmon Is Flawed and Inadequate, by Michael McCauley

Intrexon to acquire 48% stake in AquaBounty

We need to keep fighting the pro-biotech, pro-Monsanto politics of the Obama Administration. Help us send as many public comments to the FDA as possible to try to stop genetically engineered salmon. Direct action is going to be necessary, too. If the Obama Administration stubbornly continues to hide behind the scientifically discredited Bush-Quayle doctrine of "substantial equivalence" claiming there isn't a "material" difference between genetically engineered and normal salmon, then we'll have no choice but to use every tactic we can muster to throw a wrench into the gears of the Frankenfoods Express.

Please sign the petition below today.  And, please forward this action alert to everyone you know. Thank you!

This petition has a goal of 100000 signatures
26-50 of 130733 signatures
Number Date Name Location
130708 3 months ago Barbara Chan Edmonton, AB
130707 3 months ago Elizabeth Patten Chichester, NH
130706 3 months ago Carlos Echevarria Inglewood, CA
130705 3 months ago Gina Freitas San Diego, CA Keep the salmon the way it is. It is healthy and best for our bodies.
130704 3 months ago Elaine Fredrick New Brighton, MN
130703 3 months ago Angela Boyge WA
130702 3 months ago crystal watson Jacksonville, FL
130701 3 months ago crystal watson Jacksonville, FL
130700 3 months ago Susan Brown La Mesa, CA Please READ the full articles below (excerpted):

"The FDA has not approved the GMO salmon for human consumption but in a preemptive move, over 9000 retail stores across the U.S. hav

In the wild, Atlantic salmon very occasionally mate with the brown trout, successfully producing offspring.
But the researchers found that in the laboratory, the genetically modified salmon could do the same. Of the 363 fish analysed at the start of the experiment, about 40% of the hybrids carried the modified genes.

Farmed fish often escape their pens.. "30,000 Farmed Salmon Make A Break For It"

While AquaBounty was waiting for FDA approval, other researchers around the world have been tinkering with animals\' genes, to produce food, medicines, materials, improve livestock or create better pets. (Glow in the dark cats??)
As with all GM animal research, there are concerns. The Atlantic Salmon Federation, for example, fears the fish could get into the wild, start breeding and disturb the ecosystem.
Four years ago, the FDA approved the first human biological drug produced from a transgenic animal, a goat.
There are also transgenic cows with human genes that produce milk similar to human breast milk and GM goats that produce a protein in their milk that can be spun into a spider silk thread.
One GM animal that has made it into many homes is the fluorescent fish. (WOW I DID NOT KNOW THAT... FLUSH AND PRAY?)

"Union ia also currently opposing approval for AquAdvantage, due to what it says is incomplete data and an unconventional approval process."
"Some scientists also worry that AquAdvantage salmon could also pose more allergenic risk to humans."

"U.S. still weighing if genetically altered fish is safe -FDA chief"
"I don\'t believe that the FDA has adequately studied the environmental effects, the economic impacts ... let alone the potential health impacts on humans," said Murkowski, whose state is home to a significant fishing industry.
"If we could guarantee that it wasn\'t safe to eat, then it would not pass our approval standards," Hamburg said. (KIND OF BACKWARDS DONT YOU THINK? HOW ABOUT DETERMINING IT IS SAFE BEFORE APPROVING IT???)

"Scientists warn that GMO salmon can breed with wild trout and harm the environment and other species."

"Wild Salmon Endangered By Failure To Contain Sea Lice From Salmon Farms" (The lice wasn\'t supposed to get loose in the wild...)

"This proposed commercial genetic trick - inserting the genes of a "pout fish" (as pictured) into Atlantic Salmon genes - has nothing to do with improved taste or texture or color or nutrition we\'d appreciate as salmon-eating consumers. It\'s being done so farm-raised Atlantic salmon will eat year round, gaining weight through what would naturally have been the spawning season."

Major Grocery Stores Announce Refusal of GMO Salmon, Despite FDA Ruling it ‘Safe’

FDA Quietly Pushes Through Genetically Modified Salmon Over Christmas Break - Genetically Modified Salmon Threaten Genetic Stability of Food Chain

And where GM salmon lead, other animals will follow. Plans are in place to genetically modify up to 50 other species, including trout and the tropical white fish tilapia, for human consumption.
GM salmon appears to have less omega 3 — the fatty acid that can protect against heart disease. It also appears to have higher levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1... nutrients are present at values that differ by more than 10 per cent. The GM variety had less folic acid, less zinc, less magnesium and less phosphorus — but more niacin and vitamin B6.
There are also concerns that GM salmon could have more allergy-triggering chemicals. The FDA concluded that was not the case — but its findings were based on a study of only six fish.
Wild Atlantic salmon are already threatened by over-fishing and the accidental release of farmed salmon. Introducing a population of bigger, tougher and faster-growing salmon could finish them off.. they are more aggressive than conventional fish.. ‘They’re hungry all the time..
But the experience in Scotland —where at least two million farmed salmon have escaped into the wild in the past decade — shows that keeping salmon secure is difficult.
..could be devastating for the endangered natural wild salmon..

"New Study Indicates GE Salmon Can Contaminate Wild Brown Trout
A new study by Canadian researchers found that genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon can successfully cross-breed with brown trout, a closely related species, further highlighting the havoc that escaped GE salmon can wreak on ecosystems... The FDA’s attempt to approve these gene altered fish without even analyzing these irreversible impacts on our native salmon and trout populations is unlawful and a gross abuse of their regulatory duties,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.
Despite the numerous foreseeable risks, FDA has limited their assessment of the GE fish to reviewing the environmental impacts of the Canadian and Panamanian facilities proposed in the application."
Senator Begich of Alaska, where wild salmon stocks are threatened, recently introduced the PEGASUS Act (the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States), which would prohibit “the shipment, sale, transportation, purchase, possession, or release in the wild of GE salmon unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service complete a full environmental impact statement and find that it will result in no significant impact to the environment.”

Nearly 2 million people wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in opposition to its plans to approve a GE Atlantic salmon

"Against The Advice of Experts, Canada Approves World’s First Genetically Modified Salmon Destined For Consumption In The U.S." The argument came in direct contradiction to statements made by the same scientist who found that releasing a transgenic fish to the wild could damage native populations even to the point of extinction... “Twice the growth is likely twice the toxicity as well if you consider artificially inflated hormonal levels which we don’t know the long term effects of.” "Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union US, says, “The FDA is relying on woefully inadequate data. There is sloppy science, small sample sizes, and questionable practices.” For example, the company used insensitive tests to try and measure the levels of growth hormone in the GM salmon and the levels of IGF-1, a hormone linked to a number of cancers."

“We are extremely disappointed and alarmed that our government has approved the production of GM fish eggs. GM salmon egg production in Canada endangers the future of wild Atlantic salmon around the world,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network... Just last week, on November 21, an environmental group in Panama filed a complaint alleging that AquaBounty’s research and development of the GM fish, using eggs sent from PEI, was not in compliance with national and international environmental regulations.

"Canada’s Approval of GM Fish Eggs Threatens Environment, Groups Say"


This is my biggest fear.. (and it would also apply to GE salmon or other life forms)
"David Suzuki is a geneticist. He’s one of the top scientists in Canada, his textbook is one of the most widely-used in the world, he’s published more than 30 books. So when David Suzuki speaks, I listen..
"Putting genes back in bottles.. How do you clean up a potential GMO mess? You don’t.
The difference with GM food is that once the genie is out of the bottle, it will be difficult or impossible to stuff it back. If we stop using DDT and CFCs, nature may be able to undo most of the damage – even nuclear waste decays over time. But GM plants are living organisms. Once these new life forms have become established in our surroundings, they can replicate, change, and spread; there may be no turning back. Many ecologists are concerned about what this means to the balance of life on Earth that has evolved over millions of years through the natural reproduction of species."'); return false;">...
130699 3 months ago John Lucas Allentown, PA
130698 3 months ago Joleen Santos Allentown, PA
130697 3 months ago Catherine St.Onge Mount Dora, FL
130696 3 months ago Heidi Jamititus SLC, UT
130695 3 months ago Anonymous yorktown, VA
130694 3 months ago Nasreen Ali Jacksonville, FL
130693 3 months ago Natasha Brant El Mirage, AZ
130692 3 months ago Anonymous MO
130691 3 months ago Robyn Johnson Modesto, CA
130690 4 months ago Anonymous Mount Prospect, IL
130689 4 months ago Anonymous CA
130688 4 months ago Anonymous Martinsburg, WV
130687 4 months ago Jim Phillips Sonoma, CA FDA: NO Frankenfish! I urge FDA to reject approval of genetically engineered salmon. GMO salmon hasn't been proven safe and shouldn't be approved for human consumption.
130686 4 months ago Anonymous Plano, IL
130685 4 months ago Muriel PY Auxerre, MS
130684 4 months ago Jean Erickson McGregor, IA
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