Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mutant Mayhem

It’s nothing short of mutant mayhem.

Years ago, “Frankenfish” came on the scene–GM salmon made by the company AquaBounty Technologies that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes to be safe and without environmental risks, but has yet to approve.

These GM salmon, however, are modified with extra growth hormone genes to make them grow larger more quickly. Additionally, GM salmon is more allergenic than other salmon—and they can reproduce, perhaps even breeding with wild salmon.

Even AquaBounty admits, with its own studies, that their GM salmon is at least 19 percent—and up to 40 percent—more allergenic than wild salmon. Yet, the company still wants to push this forward, saying there’s “no difference.”

Additionally, you’d think that if GM salmon is approved, that it would be labeled as “Genetically modified salmon.” But no.  The FDA indicates that, if passed, there will be no special labeling of GM salmon, even though people want to know what they’re eating.

Why no labeling? The FDA believes it’s unlawful to demand labeling, citing that GM salmon is “identical” to regular salmon, so they can’t require it to be labeled differently. David Edwards, the director of animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, agrees, saying, “Extra labeling only confuses the consumer. It differentiates products that are not different.”


If the FDA does approve GM salmon, it could open the door to many other GM animals coming to market. Check this out.

Then there are GM pigs, known as “enviropigs.” Genetically engineered to digest plant phosphorous more efficiently and to cut feed costs, these pigs were recently killed due to funding problems and growing unrest from the public about GM animals. Before the pigs were slaughtered, however, enough genetic material was taken to replicate them in the future.

Adding to the Franken Farm, are goats engineered with a protein in their milk to supposedly “help fight diarrhea,” chickens which are “virus resistant” and dairy cows that are “mastitis resistant.”

The mayhem doesn't stop there. In the recent past, biotech companies’ scientists introduced human genes into the DNA of 300 Holstein dairy cows to create a product with the “same” properties as human breast milk—to be fed to babies as an alternative to breast-feeding.

Speaking of milk. . . one of the newer developments has to do with scientists creating genetically modified milk that doesn’t have a key protein which triggers allergies—a feat documented in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—but is highly questionable.

Interestingly, the regulatory process for getting approval to bring these mutant creatures and their products to market in the United States has been somewhat slow. Some companies have taken their “Franken animals” and products to other countries instead—perhaps only re-routing the process, so that the products can still get to your table through international trade.

Beware of the mutant mayhem in GM foods and animals.  “It’s the most dangerous thing facing human beings in our generation”—as the Institute for Responsible Technology highlights in its Genetic Roulette documentary  trailer.