Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Genetically Engineered Salmon Saga Continues

As you may already know, AquaBounty—a company originally incorporated to make antifreeze—is trying to get FDA approval of its very own patented salmon species called "AquAdvantage." If approved, this sterile, all-female “salmon” would be the first market-approved, genetically-engineered protein source to reach the American dinner table. Aside from the more obvious common sense problems with this whole experiment, the FDA is not even reviewing AquAdvantage “salmon” (yes, I use quotation marks in this blog, because I refuse to call it “salmon” without the quotations) as a fish. It is being studied by the FDA as a new animal drug, and therefore, if approved, it would not be required to be labeled as “genetically modified.” Really? A new animal drug?? Isn’t that convenient???

That’s right! In fact, this is standard protocol for the FDA, who considers any genetically altered animal a new animal drug for approval purposes.

In an attempt to end the madness, three consumer groups --Food and Water Watch, Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety --recently submitted a petition to the FDA calling on them to reclassify the genetically altered fish as a food additive. Food additives require a far more rigorous FDA review, the sort that is required for any novel substance added to food. It seems now, that even Congress is speaking out. Over 30 members of the House and 14 Senators have written the Obama administration expressing their concerns about the FDA's review of the Franken-fish. Some in Congress are even calling for the outright prohibition of its approval for human consumption.

On a side note, couldn’t this company come up with a better name for this genetically altered, disaster-of-a-fish they are trying to sell us? I don’t know about you, but AquAdvantage sounds more like something I would clean my toilet bowl with than something I would eat . . . I guess the name AquaMutant was already taken.