By Rebekah Wilce on April 26, 2013

Genetically engineered salmonThe extended comment period on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review and approval of AquAdvantage genetically engineered (GE) salmon ends April 26. As more comments flood in, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) reports that documents disclosed through a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) "raise serious questions about the adequacy of the FDA's review of the AquAdvantage Salmon application."

As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported, the FDA's science was already "fishy." Now these documents reveal that while the FDA refused to look at the environmental impacts of these genetically manipulated fish outside of the Canadian and Panamanian facilities the application proposed, it appears that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was already receiving requests to import AquAdvantage Salmon eggs into the U.S. for commercial production.

Responding to this revelation, Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of CFS, asked if "the whole idea of growing these genetically engineered salmon in Panama was a regulatory ruse by the company designed to get approval, while their real intent was to sell these eggs to U.S. companies to be grown in U.S. facilities."

Meanwhile, CFS claims that nearly 1.5 million people have commented in opposition to approval of GE salmon between the initial comment period in the fall of 2010 and so far during the comment period that ends at midnight on April 26. A 2010 survey commissioned in 2010 found that "78 percent of adults believe the FDA should not approve the genetically engineered salmon for human consumption." Grocery stores including Trader Joe's, Aldi, Whole Foods, and Marsh (representing more than 2,000 stores in the United States) have committed not to sell GE fish even if it is allowed on the market. And more than 260 chefs have joined Chefs Collaborative, a nonprofit network of chefs devoted to a sustainable food supply, in objecting to the transgenic fish.

Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food and Water Watch, author of Foodopoly, and a recent guest of CMD's Food Rights Network in Madison, Wisconsin. Hauter emphasized that the "FDA needs to put interests of the public ahead of those from the biotech industry, which appear to be GE salmon's only proponents. FDA must put an end to this regulatory mess and acknowledge that the environmental risks and lingering food safety issues don't justify approving this product."

Food and Water Watch urges those in opposition to the introduction of GE fish to comment on the FDA's approval of AquAdvantage GE salmon here.

Congress is considering two pieces of legislation that would affect GE salmon:

PEGASUS Act "to Prevent the Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon" Introduced to Congress

Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Don Young (R-AK), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) this week introduced the "Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States (PEGASUS) Act," H.R. 1667, to block the introduction of GE salmon to the American diet and to waterways. It is a companion bill to S. 246, which was introduced by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) in February 2013.

"We need to keep genetically engineered salmon out of our oceans, rivers and streams -- and off of our dinner plates," Congressman Huffman said in a statement. "GE salmon pose a danger to our wild salmon population, the ecosystems they live in and our commercial fisheries, and this bill is an important step towards protection of our families and coastal communities."

Supporters of the bill can email their members of Congress here.

GE Labeling Bill Introduced

In addition to the above proposed legislation, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) this week introduced the "Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act," bipartisan legislation that would require the FDA to clearly label GE foods -- including fish -- so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat. The Senate version is here and the House version is here.

"Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families," Senator Boxer said in a statement. "This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more -- not less -- information about the food they buy."

Supporters of the right to know if food is genetically engineered can email their members of Congress here.

Rebekah Wilce

Rebekah Wilce is a reporter and researcher who directs CMD's Food Rights Network project.

Comments

It is pretty ironic that the mantra for PRWatch is "reporting on spin and disinformation". This article is nothing but spin and disinformation. You present only the anti-GM side of the debate. The statements made by these politicians and anti-GM organizations are not scientifically sound. They are making it up as they go along. When will people stop being so reactionary and instead try and understand the facts to make an informed opinion? GM technology has provided tremendous benefits to the enviornment already. Why not expand this to animal production?

You say people need to "stop being so reactionary and instead try and understand the facts to make an informed opinion," yet offer no facts yourself. People would do well to avoid speakers such as this.

If GMOs are so great, then why aren't suppliers/producers/etc pasting it in BIG BOLD letters on their products - new and improved, now with GMO! - ? why not?
You wanna eat it, be my guest.
Like the other poster said - if they can't prove it doesn't contain GMOs, I'm not buying it. Period. That goes for grocers and restaurants.

They had to fight to get information released because something is being hidden. If all is well with GMO'S and
GMO's are safe and beneficial then there would be nothing to hide. We are supposedly given choice in this country
And even if GMO's are safe, I still have the right to know. It would seem a simple argument, why any argument at all, seems like a no brainer. The people want to know what's in their food, let them know, period. As far as the fish, you can eat Alll you like. If this salmon gets through, I vow to never eat any kind of salmon ever again, and I have that choice.

I agree- if GMO salmon is approved, I will give up salmon for the rest of my life. No questions asked.

Maybe we could spread this idea (not that more people haven't already decided this).

And your comment is nothing but unsupported characterizations and sweeping generalities. Would you care to name some of these "tremendous benefits to the 'enviornment'"?

Frankly, you sound like a flack who gets paid per comment posted.

All consumers are ignorant and stupid if they believe they are not consuming some type of genetically modified food on a daily basis. Just about EVERYTHING we consume has been genetically manipulated in some way, whether it is a fruit that has been selectively bred to produce the best taste, or whether a gene has been physically manipulated. Did you know that WHEAT is a genetically engineered product? Many FRUITS and VEGGIES have been selectively bred to produce the best look and taste, as well as being genetically modified to become resistant to bugs and pesticides. Wake up you fools. Labeling products as "GMO" is A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY!!! WHY spend millions of dollars on new food labels and packaging when EVERY PRODUCT YOU CONSUME IS A GMO IN SOME WAY?! Stop being so ignorant. This is a HUGE waste of money, however it would be a hilarious wake up call to all of the idiots who believe that they do not eat any genetically modified foods.