AquAdvantage salmon is close to being approved as the first genetically engineered (GE) animal to be approved for human consumption by the FDA. Created by the Massachusettes company AquaBounty Technologies, the GE salmon combines the genes of the Chinook salmon and Pacific salmon, and also includes a rapid growth gene taken from ocean pout. The fish reaches maturity in half the time as wild salmon.
The FDA has not disclosed their timeline on the subject, but The Daily reports that the agency has sent its environmental assessment to the White House, indicating that their assessment is complete. Talking Points Memo reports that the document is in favor of commercializing the genetically engineered fish.
Opponents of the GE salmon have stepped up their efforts to prevent it from entering the U.S. food stream. Many ecologists worry that the wide-scale breeding of such a fish will have a negative impact on the environment, particularly if the AquAdvantage salmon escapes into the wild and breeds with wild salmon.
“Nobody has answered the fundamental question of whether the development of genetically engineered fish is good for society or not,” said George Leonard, a marine scientist at the Ocean Conservancy.
Two Alaska senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich, have introduced bills that could halt the farming of the GE salmon in the interests of protecting the wild fishing industry. One bill prohibits the interstate commerce of genetically altered fish and the other bill prevents federal funds from being spent on the salmon’s approval, a measure that would ultimately ban the fish altogether.
Consumer groups have also raised concerns about the health implications of consuming genetically engineered salmon. According to Ronnie Cummins, the director of the Organic Consumers Association, the salmon contains more IGF1, a hormone that has been linked to prostate, breast and colon cancer in humans. The GE salmon may also be less nutritious than wild salmon, containing lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Do you want to take action against GE Salmon? The Organic Consumers Association offers an easy way to send a message to U.S. Food and Drug Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and President Obama. Learn more here.