The infiltrated US Department of Agriculture may have given AquaBounty Technology’s (ABTX) genetically modified salmon a green light, but the Canadian government has issued a draft statement saying that GE salmon is not safe since it is ‘more prone to disease.’
If AquaBounty had their way – the company’s GE salmon would be the first ever approved GM animal approved for human consumption – but Food & Water Watch, the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, and Consumers Union (among other groups) are asking the USDA to reconsider in light of the 400-page risk assessment drafted by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“The findings from the Canadian risk assessment show that FDA has based its assessment of this totally unnecessary technology on blind trust,” said Wenonah Hauter. “It’s clear that there are unique safety issues that FDA has failed to consider, which is why we are calling on the agency to terminate its review of GMO salmon.”
Stated in the draft are the following concerns about GE salmon:
- Alarmingly, these GE fish are more susceptible than non-GE domesticated salmon to Aeromonas salmonicida – a disease-causing bacteria. This indicates unique animal health problems and raises environmental and public health concerns that the FDA has never considered, while trusting AquaBounty’s pronouncements with arguable blind faith.
- AquaBounty’s GE salmon are exhibiting dramatically diminished growth rates in commercial facilities, casting more doubt on the widely disputed claims about the accelerated growth rates of GE salmon which originally justified their existence according to the biotech industry.
- The growth-hormone gene construct which is inserted in the fish is reportedly unpredictable. This puts into question the safety and commercial viability. It’s no different than the rogue proteins that are showing up in other genetically modified ‘inventions’ like out plants.
But this wouldn’t be the first time that the USDA has overlooked AquaBounty’s mistakes.
The FDA’s failure to document two major biosecurity lapses at AquaBounty, including a storm-related mechanical failure that involved “lost” salmon, along with the discovery that their facility operated in Panama was operating without the needed environmental permits, has also been conveniently overlooked.
What if those ‘missing’ fish were let into our oceans and rivers without permission, and certainly without risk assessments? Biotech fails again at protecting or ‘creating’ the food supply, as they like to claim. I can assure you in time, those same diseases that are cropping up in their GE salmon would also be proven to affect the humans who eat them.
Thankfully, major grocery stores have already announced that they will be rejecting the GE salmon. The issue is that while the largest chain grocery store companies in the US agreed not to sell genetically modified salmon, the over 9000 stores might still be passing off GMO salmon as non-GMO if the industry isn’t required to disclose such information. Without a requirement that GMO foods be labeled, two of the largest grocery stores in the U.S., Kroger and Safeway, will have no way to uphold their recent commitment to consumers who want to know what is in their food.
“Major grocery chains, consumers and salmon producers are all rejecting genetically engineered salmon,” said Dana Perls, food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “This new assessment adds to the body of science showing that this genetically engineered fish doesn’t offer any benefit to aquaculture, has unique health problems and presents environmental risks. Why is the FDA continuing to spend scarce tax-payer dollars reviewing this fish that offers all risk and no reward?”
Featured Image from: KCRW