Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dr. Evils Mess With Fish

While many no doubt see this as a good thing, I find it chilling. Maybe I'm just too paranoid in my old age. I love salmon, so who wouldn't want bigger and more? Not me, I don't trust it, and it is so wrong on many levels. The following New York Times article Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table, gives us the happy news about genetically messed with salmon, still to be approved by the FDA.
The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.
This Giant Salmon was developed by the happy sounding titled "AquaBounty Technologies" which raises the Giant Salmon (a mix of the Atlantic, Chinook and pout salmon) in fish farms.


If approved and the Giant Salmon clears various envirnomental and other hurdles, other genetically modified animals will be offered to us, such as the "enviropig."

The FDA isn't treating the Giant Salmon like food, exactly:
Under a policy announced in 2008, the F.D.A. is regulating genetically engineered animals as if they were veterinary drugs and using the rules for those drugs. And applications for approval of new drugs must be kept confidential by the agency.
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.”
Some within the infra-structure are well aware of the politics and implications involved. In an understatement to be sure, an individual who wants to remain anonymous said:
Government officials and industry executives say the F.D.A. is moving cautiously on the salmon. “It’s going to be a P. R. issue,” said one government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the issue.
Genetically modified foods do not have to be labeled; consumers apparently don't have the right to know.
Foods must be labeled, it says, only if they are different in their nutritional properties or other characteristics.
 Ignoring, among other things, that altering and modifying foods, splicing them with say, glowing fish or spider webs, affects the "nutritional properties."

In a display of spin and topsy turvy thinking, AquaBounty representative Mr. Stotish says he's not against "voluntary labeling" but gee, it's not up to him:
but the matter was not in its hands because it would only be selling fish eggs to fish farms, not grown salmon to the supermarket.
He said the company had submitted data to the F.D.A. showing that its salmon was indistinguishable from nonengineered Atlantic salmon in terms of taste, color, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins and other nutrients.
“Our fish is identical in every measurable way to the traditional food Atlantic salmon,” Mr. Stotish said. “If there’s no material difference, then it would be misleading to require labeling.”
And finally, no need to fear the impact of  Giant Salmon on the environment, because all the fish are:
female and sterile, making it impossible for them to mate.



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