RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—In just a few days, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will decide whether or not to approve the first genetically engineered (GE) animal for industrial production and human consumption. And the transgenic animal—a genetically engineered salmon—likely won't be labeled as such, making it hard for consumers to avoid the Frankenfish. (Just as most of us are already eating GE corn, soy, and canola without knowing it.) The biotech company creating the fish inserted genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout, and the resulting fish reportedly grows twice as fast, which, of course, will benefit the biotech developers and ocean factory-farm owner. "This is a terrible precedent, the first genetically engineered animal. And there's more to come," says Patty Lovera, assistant director at the consumer watchdog group Food & Water Watch, a consumer watchdog group. "Genetically engineered pig is right behind salmon in the approval pipeline. It's a bad can of worms to open up."
THE DETAILS: The whole approval process of genetically engineered salmon has been a shady deal, to say the least. For starters, it's not going through the more stringent and transparent approval process that food would endure. Instead, it's being pushed through as a "veterinary drug." Furthermore, the FDA does not conduct its own studies on safety, but rather relies on data provided by the company producing and selling the AquaAdvantage salmon. Conflict of interest, anyone?
There are no long-term studies on the effects of genetically engineered foods on people, but preliminary independent research is already finding problems. (More on that shortly.) A meeting is slated for next Tuesday to discuss labeling the fish, should it be fully approved. Indications are that, like GE food already in the food web, the salmon likely won't be labeled as such, leaving consumers in the dark so a biotech company can rake in the bucks.