The FDA released its draft Environmental Assessment of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered (GE) salmon last week, which is the final step towards becoming the first FDA-approved GE food animal. Many organizations, including Food & Water Watch, oppose GE salmon.
The reasons for opposition are many, including lack of scientific rigor and expertise at the FDA, concerns about the ability of the engineered fish to escape into the wild, and concerns about unknown health effects. For instance, Consumers Union is concerned that the process used to create the salmon “substantially alters its composition and nutritional value.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sponsored a failed amendment that would have required environmental and economic impact studies of the salmon. And groups including Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety have stated they are worried about human health issues, since there are no long term studies on the possible effect of GE foods on human health, and ecological worries.
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, released a statement that reads, in part, “to add insult to injury, this product may be hitting the market without labeling, meaning that concerned consumers who have demanded labeling will be unable to identify GE from non-GE salmon. Not only does this ignore our fundamental right to know what we are putting on our plates, it is simply bad for business, as many will avoid purchasing any salmon for fear it is genetically engineered.”
Ms. Hauter continues, “The FDA, which has been tasked with protecting consumer safety, failed to conduct the appropriate studies to determine if it is safe to eat or even if the fish can live up to AquaBounty’s claim of faster growth rates. And, by releasing an environmental assessment instead of a more thorough environmental impact statement, the FDA failed to fully consider the threat this controversial new fish could post to wild fish populations.”