Genetically modified salmon? “Nein danke,” says a group of U.S. senators who are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop considering approval of genetically modified salmon for importation, growth, and consumption within the United States. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski are currently leading a group of six other senators in the protest, which starts with a letter warning the FDA of the dangers of genetically modified salmon, especially to Alaska’s already flourishing wild Alaskan salmon populations.
AquaBounty Inc has submitted an application to the FDA, hoping for approval to grow “AquAdvantage” genetically modified salmon in Panama and import them to the United States. The eventual plan is to grow the genetically modified salmon in controlled fisheries within the U.S.
“FDA hasn’t considered all of the potential negative impacts of genetically altered fish and the strong opposition in Congress to approving something that could decimate wild salmon populations,” said Begich in an official statement. “Recent scientific evidence shows that if genetically modified salmon escape, they could successfully breed with wild stocks, potentially destroying the genetic adaptations that have allowed fish to thrive for millennia. Alaska wild salmon is abundant and sustainable. We don’t need Frankenfish threatening our fish populations and the coastal communities that rely on them.”
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In response, AquaBounty Technologies President and CEO Ronald L. Stotish also released an official statement asserting the FDA that the senators’ concerns are based in paranoia and that no threat exists from AquAdvantage salmon regarding either human consumption or Alaska’s wild salmon supply.
“The U.S. FDA has conducted a rigorous 15-year review of thousands of pages of data and has concluded that these fish are exactly the same as any other Atlantic salmon and, therefore, are safe for consumption,” reads the statement. “In addition, the fish will be sterile and required to be grown in self-contained inland tanks, posing no threat to the way.”) The House of Representatives has also sent the FDA a similar message, opposing genetically modified salmon in the United States. Whether any of these statements ultimately sway the FDA’s decision one way or another will remain to be seen.