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The Debate Continues Surrounding GM Salmon

01 September 2010

US - A coalition of 31 consumer, animal welfare and environmental groups, as well as commercial fisheries associations have criticised the FDA for potentially approving genetically modified (GM) salmon.

AquAdvantage transgenic salmon would be the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption.

The group is concerned that GM salmon would seriously threaten wild stocks. It says that research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a release of just sixty GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 would lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 generations.

However, AquaBounty's CEO, Ronald Stotish says that the author of the Trojan gene hypothesis raised by the coalition has specifically said it does not apply to salmon, nor to AquAdvantage salmon in letters both to AquaBounty and to members of the coalition.

"The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to go ahead with this approval process is misguided and dangerous, and is made worse by its complete lack of data to review” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “FDA has been sitting on this application for 10 years and yet it has chosen not to disclose any data about its decision until just a few days before the public meeting.”

"We all know there is a great appetite for salmon, but the solution is not to ‘farm’ genetically engineered versions to put more on our dinner tables; the solution is to work to bring our wild salmon populations back,” said Jonathan Rosenfield, PhD, a Conservation Biologist and President of the SalmonAID Foundation, a 28-member coalition of commercial, tribal, and sportfishing interests, conservation organisations and chefs. “The approval of these transgenic fish will only exacerbate the problems facing our wild fisheries.

AquaBounty has responded saying that AquAdvantage salmon are, quite literally, the most studied fish in the world.

Mr Stotish says that AquAdvantage salmon are a possible solution to many of the environmental concerns associated with salmon production. AquaBounty has taken unprecedented steps to assure that the fish cannot interact with wild populations.

He says that the FDA has spent the last fifteen years creating a robust regulatory process to ensure these fish and other transgenic animal applications are appropriately evaluated and regulated.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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