Consumer groups petition FDA to ban GE salmon as an unsafe food additive

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7- Three consumer groups submitted a joint formal petition today asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to classify and evaluate AquaBounty's “AquAdvantage” genetically engineered (GE) salmon and all of its components as a food additive.

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The groups include the Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, and the Center for Food Safety. Their legal petition contends that the current agency review process that treats GE salmon only as a new animal drug is insufficient to protect public health, and that the agency is required by law to review the GE salmon under what should be a more rigorous process for any novel substance added to food. A link to the petition can be found here:

“The data FDA has on GE salmon, which were supplied by Aquabounty, are incomplete, biased, and cannot be relied upon to show that the GE salmon is safe to consume,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Aquabounty's own study showed that GE salmon may contain increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone that helps accelerate the growth of the transgenic fish and is linked to breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer."

The groups said that the potential health risks of GE salmon are no different from a number of food additives the FDA has banned in the past.

Aquabounty describes AquAdvantage Salmon advanced-hybrid salmon that include a gene from the Chinook salmon, which provides the fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon.

Aquabounty has submitted an application to FDA for approval of the transgenic salmon under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The consumer groups' petition asserts that the process used to create the GE salmon substantially alters its composition-including its nutrition value-and demand that the fish and its components be treated as a food additive pursuant to FDA's guidelines. As a food additive, AquaBounty's GE salmon would be considered unsafe for consumption unless the company's data overwhelmingly proved otherwise.

The groups assert that a proper review process would require GE salmon to undergo comprehensive toxicological studies, specifically those developed to ensure that foods entering the market are safe to consume and are properly labeled.


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