Ag industry groups protest legislators' interference in FDA process

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.


WASHINGTON, August 3- A group of agriculture industry groups sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate on Tuesday, urging them not to interfere with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision whether to approve genetically engineered salmon as food. 

The letter is signed by the “Animal Agriculture Coalition”, a group of 38 organizations, including the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the National Farmers Union, the Animal Health Institute, the American Meat Institute and the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

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The letter asks Congress to respect the FDA mandate to base its assessments on science and not allow the U.S. reputation in biotechnology to be influenced by politics. The letter arrives after a proposed piece of legislation introduced in early June, H.R. 2112, passed in the House of Representatives on June 16 by roll call vote. The Senate received it the same day and referred it to the Committee on Appropriations.

If passed, the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would include an amendment to prohibit the FDA from spending money on the pending approval of a genetically engineered salmon, which AquaBounty Technologies brought to the agency 15 years ago.

“We do not write to support or oppose this specific application, but rather to register our concern with the House's action, which if allowed to become law, would disrupt the FDA's Congressional mandate to base its assessments of human and animal drugs, devices, vaccines, and process applications on the best-available science underlying an application,” the letter states. “Such a disruption would diminish the credibility of the FDA approval process at home and overseas. The global reputation of FDA's science-based review procedure is based on the Agency's objectivity.”

Members of the House and Senate sent letters to the FDA on July 15, asking it to abandon its consideration of modified salmon as food. The legislators who wrote letters include ten members of the Senate and 29 members of the House of Representatives. 

"I just don't see a reason from a fundamental standpoint why we have to start manufacturing 'Frankenfish' when we have incredible fisheries that employ thousands of people," said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

The Animal Agriculture Coalition argues that the debate regarding genetically engineered salmon should not be addressed by the FDA, but should be approved or disapproved with their objective scientific process. The Coalition's letter, sent August 2 to House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is available here:


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