August 16, 2022

FDA Asked to Monitor False Industry Claims About GMO Salmon

Food & Water Watch and Center for Food Safety asked FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to stop erroneous statements by AquaBounty Technologies. The company’s vice present Henry Clifford told the press that the government will let the company sell its GMO salmon without a label to inform consumers.

SalmonWenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “FDA’s failure to take action on AquaBounty’s blatant misrepresentation of the facts typifies the agency’s entire hands-off regulatory review of GMO salmon. It also illustrates the dangerous level of miscommunication between FDA and AquaBounty that, historically, has caused the agency to overlook critical risks associated with GMO salmon.”

Environmental experts are concerned that the genetically engineered fish will be able to escape into the wild, where it could breed with wild fish, outcompete wild salmon for food, and eventually cause the extinction of wild salmon. In addition, Consumer Reports has stated that the engineered fish may have different nutritional properties, especially since testing found that wild salmon has 189% more omega-3 fatty acids than engineered fish. And studies have found that engineered salmon have a higher tolerance for environmental pollutants, which means more toxins can accumulate in the fish, posing a risk to human health. Unfortunately, those risks may never be discovered, since toxins can cause many different illnesses including cancer that take years to develop.

The letter, sent to the government last week, is the third time that Food & Water Watch has asked the FDA to address false statements made by AquaBounty. FDA has said it would not make a decision about labeling the engineered salmon until it makes a decision about regulatory approval.

And this is not the first time AquaBounty has made false statements. The company did not inform the FDA about a major biosecurity lapse in 2009, when the company’s Canadian facility on Prince Edward Island was infected with a disease that killed many fish. FDA said the facility was “disease free” in its 2010 Environmental Assessment. A public interest group discovered and publicized the truth about the disease outbreak in December 2011. Hauter said, “the company’s behavior does not instill confidence that AquaBounty can raise the riskiest fish in the world.”

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