Stop Frankenfish from Hitting our Plates Soon
On December 26, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Frankenfish, otherwise known as the genetically-modified organism they’re calling salmon. The salmon trademarked as AquAdvantage by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, is an Atlantic salmon with DNA from the Chinook salmon blended with growth hormones from the eel-like ocean pout, allowing it to grow to market size in 18 months instead of 3 years.
Genetically Engineered (GE) Salmon has not hit the shelves yet, and the FDA will take comments until February 25, 2013. http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0899-0001 Arrival in supermarkets has been stalled by a farm spending bill amendment, backed by U.S. House Rep. Don Young of Alaska, which seeks to prevent FDA from spending any money approving AquaBounty’s application. Senator Mark Begich and Senator Lisa Murkowski have also spoken out against it.
This week Genetic Roulette, a film advocated by multiple medical specialists and biologists, won the Transformational Film of 2012 from AwareGuide. It’s online for free viewing until February 10. Credible testimonies given in the film presents evidence that GMO crops — so widespread in the US now — are a probable cause for a slew of health problems, including autoimmune disorders, autism, birth defects, infertility and allergies. Currently nine American crops, including most of our corn and soybeans are genetically modified, and they continue to be modified more and more as they develop resistance to herbicide sprays. Most of the meats we consume are from animals who have been fed GMO-crops, crops which have proven to cause the animals health problems and infertility.
Studies of GMOs have only just been released by scientists. Since GM foods have been sold to consumers since 1994, it is a good time evaluate results and judge if we should continue eating these foods. In 2012, long-term studies came out of Cannes, France dissecting the effects of Genetically Modified (GM) Corn, particularly the strand NK603 (Monsanto’s Round Up Ready variety). The findings showed that rats fed feed with any amount of GM corn, experienced premature deaths and sickness. At the 14-month stage in the testing, no rats in the control groups showed signs of illness, but 10-30% of female rats in the groups being fed GM corn developed cancerous tumors. Males, which fell sick, suffered liver damage, developed kidney and skin tumors and digestive problems. Since humans have been eating this stuff (often unknowingly) for close to two decades, how can we possibly believe the AquAdvantage salmon will not also carry risky side effects?
In addition to the questions of long-term health effects, there are concerns of the impact these fish will have on the environment. While these fish are currently being raised in-land in tanks, will its status as “safe for human consumption” mean that they will eventually be accepted as farm-able in off shore fisheries? What would it mean for an egg or fish (it only takes one) to escape the confines and mate with the other naturally occurring salmon? The Alaskan Department of Fish and Game released its annual fisheries forecast for the year on January 2nd showing that the Chinook (king) salmon yields is expected to be the fifth smallest since 1980.
Demonstrators came out against GMOs in front of the Washington, DC federal district court Jan. 10
While GE Salmon supporters will argue, If the salmon population is already dwindling, shouldn’t we turn to our own devices for salmon? Wouldn’t it be more environmentally friendly? We’ve already seen that the cross pollination of GE crops with their natural counterparts can result in a weakening of genes in new generations, sterilization thanks to the “terminator gene” (an engineered trait that ensures that farmers will need to buy new seed for every planting), and has contaminated organic farmers’ crops resulting in financial ruin. Now studies and computer simulation tests at Purdue University have shown that one GE Salmon escaping into the wild could be detrimental to the population. “Transgenic fish are typically larger than the native stock, and that can confer an advantage in attracting mates
Purdue animal scientist Bill Muir says, “If, as in our experiments, the genetic change also reduces the offspring’s ability to survive, a transgenic animal could bring a wild population to extinction in 40 generations.” Muir refers to this phenomenon as the “Trojan gene hypothesis” when fish have an evolutionary predisposition to be attracted to larger fish. So, how do we keep these GE fish from contaminating and leading natural salmon to possible extinction?
AquaBounty is pressing hard to have the AquAdvantage approved, and have solicited the President Obama and other major political contenders with a letter from their scientists. The company says that they can’t financially sustain much longer, waiting for approval, but perhaps they are hoping to reach approval before anyone catches onto their “science?”
The “Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact” for AquAdvantage Salmon states:
“AquAdvantage Salmon would be produced as triploid, all-female populations with eyed-eggs as the product for commercial sale and distribution. These eggs would be produced in the sponsor’s facility on Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada. After confirming the genetic integrity of the broodstock used for manufacture and effective induction of triploidy in the eyed-eggs, these eggs would be shipped to a land-based grow-out facility in the highlands of Panama, where they would be reared to market size and harvested for processing.” This long journey from processing to market leaves a large window of opportunity for possible catastrophe, including human error and natural disasters.
The future of fresh Alaska salmon will be endangered if we allow the FDA to approve high tech GE salmon
Under the proposed action, AquAdvantage Salmon would not be produced or grown in the United States, or in net pens or cages, and no live fish would be imported for processing. AquAdvantage Salmon may, and most likely will, make it out into the general population, just as all other harvested GMOs have succeeded in doing.
Should the AquAdvantage Salmon be approved, it will mean that we will no longer be able to safely consume salmon without reading the label. Just like all other GMO products, the GE salmon will not be identified as a GMO (Click here for more information on GMO labeling and Prop 37). Alaska’s fisheries and economy will suffer. Farm raised salmon is banned in the 49th state after Alaska’s fisheries lobbied lawmakers in an effort to fight market competition, but farmed salmon flooded the market from other sources causing the prices of wild salmon to drop by almost 50% before resurging in 2000. Why would we want to take jobs and money away from hard working Americans and send out salmon sourcing to Canada and Panama?
For Consumers, there is still time to tell your representatives, “No. We don’t want GE Salmon.”
Please submit your comments to the FDA, urging it to halt approval of the GE
salmon. Comments must be received by the FDA no later than February 25, 2013.
* There is a time limit on the government’s online system. We encourage you to write your comments and save them in a document on your computer, then copy and paste them into the online comment form or upload the file.
* For the required field “Organization Name,” please enter “Citizen.”
* Remember to hit “submit comment” when you are done.
Division of Dockets Management
(HFA- 305), Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852
Include the following docket number in your mailed comment: FDA-2011-N-0899.
I am writing to urge you not to approve genetically engineered (GE) salmon. The agency’s draft assessment does not adequately examine the risks posed by the first genetically engineered food animal, both to people and our environment.
First, the draft assessment does not adequately address the many potential food safety risks posed by GE salmon. There are potential human health impacts from both the increased levels of hormones and the increased allergenicity. The agency should not approve a genetically engineered food animal for commercial production and sale without independent, long-term studies on its health effects in people.
Second, the draft assessment also fails to adequately address the major environmental impacts of GE salmon. The agency assumed that the GE salmon would only be raised in the type of facility specified in the company’s application. But once approved, it is very likely that GE salmon will be raised in other, less secure, types of facilities, such as open net pens in the ocean. The persistent problem of escaped fish and the spread of diseases from commercial salmon farms where this GE salmon could one day be produced must be evaluated before approval.
I urge you to put human health, the environment, and the economic well-being of coastal fishing communities first. Please delay approval of GE salmon until the results of independent scientific studies show that genetically engineered fish is safe to eat and harmless to the environment.
Please also require the labeling of GE foods, to allow consumers to make an informed choice.
Please contact your legislators, asking them to block the approval of GE salmon, with the following message:
“My name is___, and I am a constituent. I urge you to take action to stop the approval of genetically engineered salmon by the FDA. There is absolutely no independent research showing that it is safe for people to consume this GE fish, both because of the increased levels of hormones in it and its altered DNA.
To add the potential for harm, the salmon wouldn’t even be labeled, so Americans won’t know what they’re eating. The fish also poses a threat to the health and economic viability of wild salmon and our coastal fishing communities. Please take action today to halt the agency’s approval process for GE salmon.”
To find contact information for your representative and two senators, go to:
* House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/