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?
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.
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.
Unlabeled. Without GMO labeling, consumers will not be able to avoid frankenfish when it arrives in grocery stores and fish markets.
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.
• 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."
by George Leonard, December 22, 2012
, by Steve Connor
by Anthony Gucciardi
, by Susie Cagle
, by Michael McCauley
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!