Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Oregon Industry Wants GM Salmon Labeled

Ecotrope | Jan. 11, 2013 9:26 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:27 p.m.

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By engineering a regular Atlantic salmon, front, with a chinook gene that instructs growth hormones, AquaBounty can produce a genetically modified salmon, back, that grows faster than its siblings. Here's a comparison of the two at the same age.

By engineering a regular Atlantic salmon, front, with a chinook gene that instructs growth hormones, AquaBounty can produce a genetically modified salmon, back, that grows faster than its siblings. Here's a comparison of the two at the same age.

The Food and Drug Administration has opened public comments on its findings that the genetically modified AquAdvantage salmon – which grows faster than other salmon – won’t have any significant environmental impacts.

Nancy Fitzpatrick, administrator of the Oregon Salmon Commission, said her industry-funded agency has opposed the genetically modified salmon and has asked the FDA not to approve it.

“But if it does go forward, we ask that it be identified to the consumer,” Fitzpatrick said.

The FDA found that there are no health risks associated with eating the genetically modified salmon and that it is very unlikely that the salmon would escape from their inland facilities and harm Atlantic salmon or the environment.

The findings move the AquaAdvantage salmon closer to market, though the FDA has yet to make a final decision. In its assessment and findings, the FDA didn’t decide whether the genetically modified salmon would be labeled as such. FDA Spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told the L.A. Times:

“Should FDA approve the application related to AquAdvantage Salmon, the agency will make a determination on whether food derived from AquAdvantage Salmon requires additional labeling.”

To make the fast-growing AquaAdvantage salmon, AquaBounty of Massachusetts engineers Atlantic salmon with a gene from chinook salmon that carries instructions for making growth hormone. The fish would be farmed at an inland facility in Panama before being processed and shipped into the U.S.

“We’re getting to the point where people want to know which fisherman caught their fish,” Fitzpatrick said. “If they don’t label it, consumers won’t have a choice to know whether (the gene) is in that fish or not in that fish.”

In a letter sent to the FDA, Fitzpatrick wrote: “We do not want to have any confusion between ocean caught salmon and GM farmed salmon.”

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