The GE fish could be on sale within three years. (Photo: Stock File)
Critics condemn maritime 'Frankenstein'
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Friday, September 10, 2010, 03:40 (GMT + 9)
AquaBounty’s genetically engineered (GE) salmon dubbed a maritime Frankenstein and deemed safe for human consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being condemned as dangerous by others.
“There is reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption of food from this animal,” AquaBounty claims.
But the genetically modified (GM) fish grows at double the rate of normal Atlantic salmon, reaching market size in 16-18 months instead of 30. The firm intends to sell the product globally to fish farmers.
“They’re basically putting the fish on permanent growth hormones so it grows faster -- so they can sell bigger fish faster,” said an analyst at the American Centre for Food Safety, reports Irish newspaper The Southern Star.
Concern is mounting in the US because the side effects from eating the Frankenstein fish are unknown and little data backs up the assertion that it is safe.
Consumer rights groups pointed out scientific evidence obtained from genetic experimentation in agriculture, noting liver and kidney damage, precancerous lesions, allergies, inflammation, resistance to antibiotics, lowered immunity and risk of new diseases as consequences. The results may be the same with GE fish.
In European Union (EU), law states that GM food and feed can only enter the market if absolute proof exists that the product does not adversely affect human health, animal health or the environment.
It also must “not mislead the consumer or user, and differ from the food it is intended to replace to such an extent that its normal consumption would be nutritionally disadvantageous for humans or animals.”
The Irish Government last October banned the cultivation and field trials of all GM crops and vowed to introduce a voluntary GM-free label for fish, crustaceans and other foods produced without using GM animal feed. The first of its kind in Europe, the ban may be challenged by US agro-engineering companies like Monsanto, which sued Germany for its ban on GM corn.
Meanwhile, the Frankenstein fish could be on sale within three years, at which point AquaBounty may attempt to push the fish into European farms.
Another big concern regarding transgenic fish is escapes, as even a small amount could eradicate all wild salmon in a short period of time with colossal consequences.
The launch of GE salmon is timely for the European Commission (EC) as it tries to revitalise Europe’s struggling aquaculture industry. EU bureaucrats may wish to bring in GE fish arguing that it will help Europe compete against massive fish importing juggernauts such as Asia and South America.
The EC is already listening to the industry’s protest that too many environmental regulations are restraining it, particularly in Ireland.
- FDA rules GE salmon safe
- FDA to complete review of transgenic salmon
By Natalia Real