Betrayal? FDA Approves Genetically-engineered Salmon Despite Widespread Concern

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In an unsettling move, the FDA ignored 2 million public comments, 40 members of Congress, and 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations that had raised concerns over the approval of synthetic salmon for use as human food. The Federal regulators have approved genetically-engineered salmon as fit for human consumption.

This will be the first synthetic animal to reach American dinner tables. A lawsuit is now being coordinated.

The producer claims that the fish is “exquisite. Buttery, light, juicy. Just as Atlantic salmon should be.” The FDA endorced the product saying that the fish is “safe to eat” and that it “meets the sponsor’s claim about faster growth”.

As of this writing, the author of this story has been unable to find mention of human clinical trials to confirm its safety or environmental impact reports on the risks or benefits of the creature to the environment.

The chimera was developed with genes from a chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus), and genes from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout (Zoarcidae). The pout’s genes cause growth hormones to be continuously produced inside the salmon so that the animal grows faster.

Environmentalists are concerned that the salmon would become an invasive species if it escapes its inland farms. It is larger and more aggressive than natural salmon, and the effect of its novel characteristics on nature are not well understood. It has been confirmed that the animal can cross-breed with brown trout, thus posing risks to the already stressed native population.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has said “I am livid at the FDA’s announcement to approve genetically engineered ‘salmon’ — what seems to be more science experiment than fish or food.” Whole Foods and Target have both committed to not selling it.

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References

Genetically engineered salmon is fit for dinner, FDA says in first decision of its kind (LA Times)

FDA deems new genetically engineered salmon safe to eat (The Hill)

FDA Approves First Genetically Engineered Animal for Human Consumption Over the Objections of Millions (Common Dreams)