The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
The FDA is on the brink of approving genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. This would be the first genetically engineered animal on supermarket shelves in the United States.
The salmon is engineered to produce growth hormones year-round that cause the fish to grow at twice the normal rate. The government already requires labels to tell us if fish is wild-caught or farm-raised—don’t we also have a right to know if our salmon is genetically engineered? Without labels, we’ll never know.
More than forty countries, including Russia and China, already require labels on genetically engineered foods. As Americans, we firmly believe that we deserve the same right to know what we are eating.
That’s why I created a petition to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on SignOn.org, which says:
Commissioner Hamburg, we urge the FDA to require the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. We have a right to know about the food we eat and what we feed our families, but under current FDA regulations, we don’t have that ability when it comes to genetically engineered foods.
Polls show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling. Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare. Please listen to the American public and mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Will you sign the petition? Click here to add your name, and then pass it along to your friends:
–Eric Schlosser and Gary Hirshberg
What are the risks?
The Food and Drug Administration has completed its highly anticipated evaluation of the world’s first genetically engineered (GE) fish for human consumption, and passed a document supporting its commercialization on the US market to the White House Office of Management and Budget for final approval, reports the Talking Points Memo.
The FDA findings, however, weren’t released to the public, preventing people from making their own completely informed decision on whether or not to eat genetically engineered fish.
Still, experts have plenty to say about why genetically modified salmon could be dangerous to our health.
Here, the three main concerns that are making us (and critics of modified animals) nervous…
1/ Not Testing for Allergens
This is a serious worry, as it is with genetically modified crops. Supporters of the new salmon brush off the fears: “If a person is allergic to fish, they wouldn’t buy the product,” says Eric Hallerman, Ph.D., a fisheries science professor at Virginia Tech. But critics claim the issue is much more complex than that. “AquaBounty Technologies (the company behind the GE salmon) didn’t adequately test whether an allergen that’s known to be in salmon is increased or not, or whether novel allergens and toxins have been created. And the FDA acknowledges that,” says Bill Freese, of the Center for Food Safety.
2/ Creating Possible Cancer Risks
The potential increase in igf-1 (an insulin-like growth factor that has been linked with cancer at elevated levels) has Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, an independent public-interest organization, very concerned. “We question the safety of genetically engineered salmon because there is enhanced hormonal activity that allows the fish to grow so rapidly, and no research was done as to whether these hormones could be passed on to the consumer,” she says. “It’s poorly understood how it could affect people. We just don’t know.”
3/ Putting Growth on a Fast Track
Disrupting an animal’s growth process and forcing it to mature twice as fast as nature intended can cause all sorts of nasty problems, say some scientists. For instance, ABT’s data from fish grown in 2005 show that only 16 percent were normal; 13 percent of the salmon had severe irregularities (which ABT didn’t describe), and 71 percent had moderate ones. “Physically visible abnormalities make you wonder what’s going on biochemically,” says Freese. The growth process for any organism is incredibly complex and very finely tuned; various organs and tissues must develop in proper coordination or else abnormalities develop. “That could make the salmon more vulnerable to infection,” says Freese.
It’s one of the many safety issues that weren’t researched, says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., of the Consumer Union. “ABT’s own data showed that these fish had higher focal inflammations, a form of infection,” he says. This was statistically significant but not explained. As a result, the fish may require more antibiotics and other drugs, like cancer-causing formaldehyde.
Read more at Women’s Health: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/genetically-modified-animals#ixzz1mWLlNQed