September 8th, 2010
01:18 PM ET

FDA to consider OK of genetically engineered salmon

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected later this month to decide whether to approve genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. If OK'd it would be the first genetically modified animal permitted by the food safety agency.

A company, AquAdvantage Salmon, has injected growth hormones into Atlantic salmon that enable the fish to reach maturity in half the  normal growth time,  16 to 18 months rather than 30 months.

The FDA  in its analysis released last week, wrote: “We therefore conclude the food from AquAdvantage Salmon… is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from the consumption of food from this animal.”

But critics question possible health effects of eating fish containing the growth hormone.

“It’s impossible to talk about the risks other than saying they haven't been properly assessed, other than process has been rushed and we don't know,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch. She added that the FDA is a “very stressed agency” with all the latest recalls and outbreaks, that it “can't ensure the safety of the foods they currently regulate.”

Hauter said that the FDA has relied too heavily on information provided by AquAdvantage and that there should be a more extended time given to thoroughly vet and discuss risks.

On September 19-21, the FDA will hold two public meetings on the issue. A  final decision is expected in the weeks following those meetings.

soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    The FDA is set to approve TRANSEXUAL genetically engineered fish for you to eat!

    I read the 180 page FDA briefing packet on the Aquadvantage GM salmon. I could not believe how crazy the process will be to produce these fish. One of the primary concerns of approving a genetically modified animal is the unknown risk of introducing such animals into the wild. In this case the fear is addressed by producing an infertile female population of fish. How do they that? Well, it is not like how your parent explained the birds and the bees to you. Here is a summary of the 7 step process taken from the AquAvantage process supplied to the FDA.

    1. Select genetically altered female salmon.
    2. Treat the sperm of male Arctic Char (a different species of fish) with radiation.
    3. Mix the irradiated sperm with eggs from the genetically altered female salmon.
    4. The fish that are able to form from this combination should only have the X chromosomes from the female salmon. If the Arctic Char was not sufficiently irradiated, the fish will have different markings and can be separated from the process.
    5. The resulting genetically altered female salmon are then treated with 17-methyltestosterone. This causes them to product male genitals and sperm. Since these fish do not have any Y chromosomes, the sperm from them can only product female fish.
    6. These “NeoMale” fish are then killed. Their sperm is surgically removed and is used to fertilize eggs from conventional Atlantic Salmon.
    7. Fertilized eggs are then subjected to pressure shock treatment in order to render the offspring Triploid. A normal fish is Diploid. That means having two complete sets of chromosomes per cell. By pressure treating the eggs the cells divide with an extra pair of chromosomes. What I visual when I think about this is the three eyed fish on “The Simpson’s”. The Triploid mutation is done in order to make the sellable fish infertile. This is so, if they escape, they cannot reproduce. Aqua Bounty has said a minimum of 95% of the fish will be infertile. That means 5% could escape, mate, and spread the un natural DNA thorough the world.

    Do you want to know if you are eating a Transgender Genetically Modified Organism with mutated chromosomes? Do you want your kids eating this?

    September 15, 2010 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. David

    A quote from Rick Moonen's response, also posted on CNN.com:

    "I am and always will be completely against any food that has been altered genetically for human consumption."

    If you are really serious about eliminating from your diet anything that has been genetically altered for human consumption, you will need to eliminate corn, wheat, rice, apples, and pretty much every other currently grown vegetable or fruit crop from your offerings,. The majority of all vegetable and fruit crops we currently consume were created through a process of artifical breeding, hybridization of different species, and "desirable" trait selection, which is the classical, don't-know-a-damned-thing method for GENETICALLY ALTERING plants and animals. At least "GM" foods were created with some knowledge of what is being changed, which I would prefer over methods that give you a "desirable" trait with no knowledge about what else may have been changed in the process.

    September 15, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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