Friday, July 2, 2010

Genetically Modified Salmon Coming Soon

A genetically altered salmon that will grow at twice the natural rate - 18 months rather than the usual three years - is on its way to your dinner table.

The FDA is close to approving the product, called AquAdvantage salmon, having already acknowledged that it meets at least five of their seven criteria. If this growth-hormone-laden "Frankenfish" passes, it will be the first GMO animal ever approved for eating.

The FDA are already arguing amongst themselves about whether or not to require that the fish be labeled as GMO. GMO plants currently have no such requirement - and if they did, almost everything would be labeled, because soy and corn are ubiquitious in American food products, and 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the United States is genetically altered.

According to the New York Times:

The salmon’s approval would help open a path for companies and academic scientists developing other genetically engineered animals, like cattle resistant to mad cow disease or pigs that could supply healthier bacon. Next in line behind the salmon for possible approval would probably be the “enviropig,” developed at a Canadian university, which has less phosphorus pollution in its manure.

Critics say the drug evaluation process does not allow full assessment of the possible environmental impacts of genetically altered animals and also blocks public input. “There is no opportunity for anyone from the outside to see the data or criticize it,” said Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. When consumer groups were invited to discuss biotechnology policy with top F.D.A. officials last month, Ms. Mellon said she warned the officials that approval of the salmon would generate “a firestorm of negative response.”