Final push to stop GM salmon

Fishing groups, consumers and health organizations are launching a final push to prevent genetically modified fish from getting the nod for American dinner plates, writes Laine Welch.

During the holidays the Food and Drug Administration issued its environmental assessment concluding that the fish, tweaked to grow at least three times faster than normal, will not have any significant impacts on the human environment and is unlikely to harm wild stocks. The FDA’s environmental green light is the last step before AquaBounty, the creators of so called Frankenfish, can send the mutant to markets. The public has until February 26 to send comments to the FDA.

Alaska Senators Begich and Murkowski have written to the FDA asking for a 60 day extension to the comment deadline, citing the holiday timing and new transitions in Congress. Senators from Washington, Oregon and Maryland also signed on to the comment extension request. No word yet on if the request has been granted. Meanwhile, Senator Begich said the agency is moving “full steam ahead with fine-tuning its Frankenfish regulations,” and he is not optimistic that public opinion will sway the federal ok.

Indeed. Late last year the federal government awarded a coveted $500,000 research grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to AquaBounty when the company disclosed it could run out of cash early this year. Over the past 16 years, Aqua Bounty has spent $67 million to genetically tweak its “AquaAdvantage” Atlantic salmon and navigate the permitting processes. Senator Begich called the FDA’s support of the mutant fish “totally misguided.” “I think the FDA is not equipped to understand the impacts this genetically engineered fish will have on the environment and ecosystem,” he said in a recent teleconference.

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