I have been following with interest the recent letters to the editor about the relative merits of wild-caught versus farmed-raised salmon. However, the issue of genetically engineered salmon was not raised in these letters, even though the FDA has now cleared the way for its approval, which, if that occurs, would provide people with another reason to avoid farmed salmon.
A biotech corporation, AquaBounty Technologies, has created a genetically engineered (GE) salmon called AquAdvantage, which, despite large public opposition, the FDA has taken steps to approve. Such approval would mark the first ever genetically engineered specimen of the Animal Kingdom to be made available for human consumption.
This creature was developed by injecting a fragment of DNA from an ocean pout fish, a type of eel, along with a growth hormone gene from the Chinook Pacific salmon, into a fertilized Atlantic salmon egg. The resultant fish is said to grow at twice the rate of its wild or farmed cousins, to eat five times as much, and to be more aggressive. In addition, it is said to contain the hormone IGF-1, linked with cancer, and also to be lower in omega-3 fatty acids-- the kind of fat of which we are supposed to eat more.
In taking this action, the FDA has ignored more than 300 consumer, health, fishing, and environmental groups that filed a joint statement against the approval, over 400,000 negative public comments, and forty members of Congress who have been trying to block its approval, calling for a more thorough review of the health and environmental risks.
Although it was completed by mid-May, being controversial in nature, it is no surprise that the FDA quietly released its Environmental Impact Assessment and recommendation that AquaBounty’s GE salmon be approved on December 21st well after the election and during the winter break. However, it did not work; numerous groups and individuals are rallying to prevent the FDA approval during the current 60-day comment period, which lasts until February 25th.
A recent article in “Organic Bytes,” published by the Organic Consumers’ Association, outlines the following risks associated with GE salmon:
“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 [PhD, senior scientist with the Consumers Union]. 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 [GE salmon] eat five times more food than wild salmon and have less fear of predators. All it would take is for some of these fish 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 [GE salmon] 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.”
The outcry is not limited to the United States. Citizens and groups from around the world are expressing dismay at the probability that the US government will approve what many have dubbed as “frankenfish.” Please go to the following website to join the almost one million people globally who have signed a petition to the FDA and to register your public comment with the agency before February 25th: http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_frankenfish_r/?fp
In addition, Saturday, February 9th, has been set as a Global Day of Action Against GE salmon. Our local Label GMOs group is planning an event involving distribution of literature and collection of petition signatures against GE salmon on that date.
A planning meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 6th from 7-8 PM at 2180 Jefferson St. in Napa. All individuals who care about our health and the health of our planet are invited to attend. For further information please call 226-1493.
Label GMOs Napa County, Volunteer
Napa Valley Patch welcomes letters to the editor. You can email them to email@example.com or post them directly in our Local Voices section by clicking the "start a blog" button on our home page.
For more about Label GMOs Napa County:
- Napa Letter: "Vote Yes on Proposition 37"
- Napa Letter: "I am Voting YES on Proposition 37"
- Napa Letter: "Let's Vote Yes on Proposition 37"
- Napa Letter: Anti-Prop 37 TV Ads are "Outright Lies"
- Napa Letter: "Prop 37 Labeling Should be Required" to Force Research
- Prop. 37: Should Genetically Modified Food Be Labeled?
- Whole Foods Ramps Up Prop. 37 Support
- Letter Thanks Napans for Prop. 37 Support
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