At the end of 2012, while Americans were transfixed on the best Christmas deals and “fiscal cliff” negotiations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its draft environmental assessment of a genetically modified salmon, carrying this man-made animal one step closer to your local fish counters.
This genetically modified salmon is an Atlantic salmon that has been given a gene from the ocean pout, a fish that resembles an eel, and a growth hormone from a wild Chinook salmon. Such genetic combination allows the fish to grow year-round, rather than only during spring and summer, and at a rate that is up to five times faster, forcing it to reach market size in about 18 months instead of 3 years. As a result, the GE salmon can grow up to 24 inches long, rather than only 13 inches, and weighs an average of 6.6 pounds, rather than 2.8 pounds.
Even though this GE fish is intended for human consumption it is actually pushed through the FDA’s approval process as a “new animal drug” and not as a food, making most of the human health impact virtually impossible to evaluate. According to Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit organization that has been opposing the GE salmon through its GE-Fish.org website for many years, the FDA’s current drug application process isn’t meant to assess human health, so the FDA is using the two-week-long safety trial provided by the GE salmon’s manufacturer, AquaBounty, to assume that the fish is safe for human consumption.
In addition, any types of environmental disasters have been deliberately left out from the FDA’s environmental assessment because, according to the draft, since the salmon won’t be raised in the United States, the U.S. environment has not been considered. The GE salmon eggs will be raised in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and from there shipped to fish farms in Panama, where they will grow into salmon.
Genetically modified salmon can promote disease
The situation with allergies is even worse, as the tests conducted by AquaBounty confirmed that “the act of genetic engineering did lead to an increase in allergenic potency.” Furthermore, when the flesh from the GE fish was tested with blood samples of people allergic to salmon, there was a whopping 52% increase in reaction levels!
In addition, there is evidence that the GE salmon might have higher levels of a cancer promoting hormone IGF-1, more antibiotics, and more of a potentially life-threatening allergen(s). The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has condemned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and urged all physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets to their patients. In the recent years, “GMO-Free” has been one of the fastest growing health claims among US brands, indicating that the tipping point of consumer rejection of all GE ingredients is near.
What can you do?
The FDA is accepting public comments on its draft environmental assessment until February 25th, 2013 and you can provide your thoughts by following this link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0899-0002
Unfortunately, as soon as the FDA’s comment period is over, this GE salmon achieves the final approval steps and will be sold unlabeled at your local fish counters making your commitment to avoid GM foods even more complicated. In an effort to protect its wild Alaskan salmon industry which is home to the last remaining wild salmon stocks and a small number of salmon farmers, Alaska made history by becoming the only state to pass a law requiring labeling of genetically modified salmon. Currently in United States, no other state, nor the FDA, is requiring labeling of any GMO foods.
It’s important to know that GE salmon will be qualified as farmed fish and the federal law requires that wild fish and farmed fish be labeled as such. As it stands, and in order to protect yourself and your family you are better of buying only fish labeled as “wild Alaskan salmon.”
If you want to stop GE salmon for good, there is still time to raise your voice and help us spread the word by sharing this message with your friends and family. Together we CAN get GMOs banned from the United States!