FDA Moves Towards Approval of GE Salmon for Human Consumption

September 7th, 2010

NCGA and other groups encourage consumers to comment by September 19

National Cooperative Grocers Association
Eric Davis

Iowa City, IA
— The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on August 25, 2010, that it will potentially approve AquAdvantage transgenic salmon as the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption. Many consumer and environmental groups have expressed their opposition to GE salmon and raised concerns about the unknown human health effects of consuming GE salmon as well as the threat to an already declining native salmon population.

While the human health effects of eating GE fish are unknown, some scientists have asserted, for example, that foreign growth hormones in transgenic fish may increase production of other compounds, such as insulin, in the fish. Some scientists also think transgenic salmon may be more disease prone than fish currently grown in aquaculture.

Farmed salmon are already given more antibiotics than any other livestock by weight and scientists are concerned that GE salmon would require even more antibiotic use — leading to increased human consumption of antibiotics.

FDA officials are undecided as to whether they would require product labeling for GE fish. “Consumers have a right to know what they’re eating, but it appears consumers may be left in the dark,” commented Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. Compounding the lack of transparency is that the FDA is considering using the approval process intended for drugs in this case, since the DNA introduced into the salmon is intended to affect the animal’s structure or function. The process for drug approval does not need to be made public, so consumers would be deprived of basic information regarding the safety of GE salmon.

GE salmon would also present a threat to native salmon populations. Containing GE salmon to prevent cross contamination or competition is a near impossibility.

Currently millions of farmed salmon escape from open-water net pens, outcompeting wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems. GE salmon could represent a serious threat to native salmon populations already suffering severe declines.

NCGA urges consumers to learn more about the issue and voice their concern about GE salmon by September 19 by visiting the Center for Food Safety’s information overview and action alert, http://s.coop/2yy (link no longer available).

About NCGA
National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for consumer-owned food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCGA is owned by 114 food co-ops operating more than 145 stores in 32 states with combined annual sales of nearly $1.3 billion. NCGA helps unify natural food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op shoppers everywhere. Additionally, NCGA is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence in recognition of the application of cooperative values and principles to drive cooperative and business success. For a map of co-op member locations, visit www.ncga.coop. To learn more about food co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.

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