July 28, 2011 1 Comment
By Elaine Watson
July 25, 2011
Arguments put forward by senators attempting to derail the approval process for the world’s first genetically engineered fish for human consumption are politically motivated and have no basis in fact, according to the firm trying to bring them to market.
AquaBounty Technologies, AquAdvantage Atlantic Salmon includes a gene from the faster growing Pacific Chinook Salmon, which enables it to reach maturity twice as quickly as standard Atlantic salmon and consume less feed.
The reduced production costs meant that the fish could be reared inland in tanks in the U.S. reducing transport costs and carbon emissions, said the firm’s chief executive Ronald Stotish.
The transgenic fish were biologically and chemically indistinguishable from standard Atlantic salmon, but simply grew faster, claimed Stotish, who was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA.com after a group of senators and congressmen wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling it to cease the approval process.
“The physical size of the end fish is just the same. This really is a precise technology and a remarkably simple change. It just makes them grow faster.”
Claims flatly contradicted by the Evidence
Letters to FDA commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, signed by 8 senators and 15 members of the House of Representatives, cite “a variety of unspecified concerns from potential threats to public health and the environment, to the socio-economic impact on producers of sustainable wild salmon.”
A press release by one signatory, senator Mark Begich, warns that fish could “decimate wild salmon populations” and adds: “We don’t need Frankenfish threatening our fish populations and the coastal communities that rely on them.”
But these claims were flatly contradicted by evidence made public by the FDA after a meeting of its Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee last year, insisted Stotish, who was “pulling my hair out” waiting for the FDA to make a final decision.
As the politicians in question were well aware, he said, the transgenic salmon were sterile, exclusively female, unable to breed even if they escape from enclosed, FDA regulated facilities into the wild.
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