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A Small Frankenfish Win

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UntitledAs the Washington Post reported, “Environmental organizations, consumer groups and independent researchers assailed the plans of a Massachusetts company to market the first genetically modified animal as food in the United States—an Atlantic salmon—and argued at a public meeting Monday that federal regulators should deny permission.”

The article quoted ANH-USA communications director Darrell Rogers as saying, “Science cannot prove that this new gene-spliced salmon is safe for human consumption over a long period of time. This recklessly and needlessly endangers human health.” You can read Darrell’s complete remarks on GE Salmon here.

Articles in the Washington Post and in the New York Times seemed to indicate that the FDA’s passage of the genetically modified salmon was a foregone conclusion. But the FDA’s veterinary panel—the committee responsible for advising on GE salmon’s approval—unexpectedly requested more information from AquaBounty, the fish’s manufacturer, and asked for more time to study the data. They want to pursue a more rigorous analysis of the fish’s possible health effects and environmental impact.
It should be noted that the FDA is not required to accept the panel’s recommendation, but it is harder for the agency to ignore it because of intense public interest in the issue.
Two hundred thousand public comments were submitted on the AquAdvantage salmon issue, and hundreds of organizations, restaurants, and food companies have signed letters opposing the genetically engineered fish.
“Dear Colleague” letters to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg are being circulated around the House and the Senate, gaining signatures in opposition to the salmon. “There is no timeline on a decision,’’ says Siobhan DeLancey of the FDA Office of Public Affairs.
Last Friday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D–NJ), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, requested more information from Dr. Hamburg regarding the safety of genetically engineered salmon for public consumption. Pallone stated that, “Up until this point, I don’t believe FDA’s review has been comprehensive enough to move forward with the approval process.”
Rep. Pallone is also a member of the Natural Resources Insular Affairs Oceans & Wildlife subcommittee, which has regulatory authority over the country’s fisheries.
AquaBounty stock plummeted 30% after the hearings. Let’s hope the stock market got it right.

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