May 7, 2021

Groups Want Deeper Review of Genetically Engineered Salmon

An FDA petition from a trio of consumer groups asserts that the process used to create a certain genetically engineered salmon substantially alters its composition and nutritional value and thus must be reviewed by the agency as a food additive.

The action is aimed to interrupt an application to the FDA for approval of Aquabounty “transgenic” salmon under the more lax provisions of an animal drug approval review.

“As a food additive, AquaBounty’s genetically engineered (GE) salmon would be considered unsafe for consumption unless the company’s data overwhelmingly proved otherwise,” the watchdog group Consumers Union said in a press release this week.

Consumers Union has teamed up with Food & Water Watch and the Center for Food Safety to challenge FDA to evaluate genetically engineered salmon as a food additive, which would require comprehensive toxicology studies to determine if they are safe to consume.

A chief concern of theirs regarding the Aquabounty product is that the salmon may contain increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone that helps accelerate the growth of the transgenic fish and is linked to breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer. The company has said it genetically engineered a salmon that will grow to market size in half the normal time.

The consumer groups warn that the potential health risks of GE salmon are no different from a number of food additives the FDA has banned in the past.

Aquabounty has said the fish they are developing would be the first food from a transgenic animal application approved by the FDA.

“Extensive study is required before approval,” the company says on its website. “The FDA will only approve food from GE animals that are safe to eat.”

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