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FDA panel says not enough evidence to verify safety of genetically modified salmon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: FDA, GM salmon, health news

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(NaturalNews) Following a review from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel this past weekend, AquaBounty Technologies, a Mass.-based biotechnology company, has been denied approval for its genetically modified (GM) salmon "AquAdvantage" that grows twice as fast as natural salmon. The FDA panel said the available data on the fish is insufficient to prove it is safe, and that the decision will have to be made at a later date.

The announcement contrasts an earlier one from the FDA indicating that the "Frankenfish" is safe. It appeared that the FDA was poised to approve the fish, but backlash from farmers, consumer advocates and even ordinary citizens, who packed the hearing room on Monday to vehemently oppose the fish's approval, seems to have changed the FDA's mind -- at least temporarily.

"The FDA is relying on company data from only a handful of fish," explained Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, an outspoken opponent of the GM fish. "Such flimsy science isn't good enough to assure the public that this product is safe to eat."

According to an ABC News report, the hearing lasted eight hours, and AquaBounty's CEO Ron Stotish said an "enormous" amount of data was presented. He believes his company's fish are safe and that the FDA committee simply got confused by everything that was presented.

But other disagree, insisting that the "science" used to allege the safety of AquAdvantage is faulty, and that approving the fish threatens the integrity of wild salmon.

"This dangerous precedent could eventually allow genetically modified fish in the very same pens and cages where hundreds of thousands of fish escape every year," testified Anna Zivian, senior manager of The Ocean Conservancy, a Washington, D.C.-based organization opposed to GM fish, at the hearing.

If AquAdvantage is approved, the floodgates could be swung wide open for a myriad of other GM animals to enter the food supply as well. According to reports, several other companies seeking approval for GM animals are anxiously awaiting the FDA's final decision in the matter.

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