AquaBounty facilities. (Photo: YouTube, linktv/FIS)
Transgenic salmon farmer condemns senators' 'paranoia'
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 22:30 (GMT + 9)
Eight US Senators sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 15 July urging it to halt the approval process for AquaBounty Technologies' transgenic salmon citing safety concerns. AquaBounty continues to insist that its product is safe for human consumption and accuses the senators of acting out of political motivation rather than a scientific basis.
The approval of AquAdvantage Salmon is being opposed by senators including Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
AquaBounty said in a statement that the FDA has run a “rigorous” 15-year review and concluded that the firm’s genetically modified (GM) fish are “exactly the same as any other Atlantic salmon and, therefore, are safe for consumption.”
The fish mature twice as quickly, grow bigger and eat less feed than natural wild Atlantic salmon.
AquaBounty also insists that the fish will be sterile and grown in self-contained inland tanks, such that they will be unable to escape into the wild and jeopardize wild salmon stocks.
Opponents of the transgenic salmon point out major environmental, health and economic harms posed to wild salmon, fishers and ecosystems, and question the FDA’s approval process.
Still, AquaBounty Chief Executive Ronald Stotish said the lower production costs mean the GM salmon could be raised inland in tanks in the US, thereby curbing transport costs and carbon emissions, Food Navigator reports.
The salmon company also noted that the United Nations (UN) reports that the wild caught fisheries are severely stressed, with major food species potentially extinct by 2050, and suggested that its transgenic salmon would help meet the demand for fish protein that is booming worldwide. The US imports more than 97 per cent of the Atlantic salmon it consumes, and the senators that signed the letter to the FDA “willfully ignore science-based research widely available to the public,” the company accused.
"We remain confident that the more deliberative body of the Senate will refrain from interfering in the 15-year scientific review by the US FDA. The facts about the safety and the environmental benefits of the fish have been made fully public by the FDA. It would be a dangerous precedent to react to a handful of legislators' misinformed paranoia,” AquaBounty cautioned.
“The real waste of tax-payer dollars would be to abandon the important American principle of science-based regulation, responding instead to economic protectionist fears or subjective and emotional judgments. This is an issue greater than our application, an issue of American leadership in technology, innovation, and science based regulation," the company added.
- Congress steps up opposition to GE salmon
- Transgenic salmon could infect wild populations: study
By Natalia Real