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FDA approves genetically modified salmon, and it won’t be labeled
The FDA has just approved AquAdvantage’s genetically engineered (GMO) Atlantic salmon. The salmon will not have to be labeled as GMO.
The FDA has spent at least four years coming to this decision. In previous posts, I’ve discussed.
- How retailers are promising not to sell GMO salmon
- Why labeling is essential
- How it’s being produced outside this country
- What the issues are about
What more to say? Only that federal agencies are tone deaf about the GMO issue.
The FDA thinks that just because it judges the salmon safe to it, that automatically makes it acceptable to the public.
But as anyone who knows anything about risk communication can tell you, even if the salmon is safe to eat, the public may not want it for a host of other reasons.
The decision not to label the salmon, is also tone deaf. The FDA bases its decision on its decision that genetic modification is not material, meaning that the GMO fish has a similar nutrient composition to wild or other farm-raised salmon.
But the FDA requires labeling of plenty of other non-material processes: made from concentrate, previously frozen, and irradiated, for example.
As far as I can tell, the FDA has learned nothing about risk communication in the 20 years since it approved GMO foods for production and consumption. The protests are already underway, some from members of Congress.
Politico Pro Agriculture quotes Senator Lisa Murkowski (Dem-AK):
“We have made no bones about the fact that this is wrong, not only for Alaska and our wild salmon stocks…but around the country,” she said, adding: “At a bare minimum people around this country need to know what they are serving their families when it comes to seafood.”
Murkowski said the draft labeling guidance released today fell short of what consumers need and plans to “continue the fight” against the fish.
This will be interesting to watch.
The FDA documents
- AquAdvantage Salmon Approval Letter and Appendix
- AquAdvantage Salmon FOI Summary (PDF – 3.7MB)
- AquAdvantage Salmon Environmental Assessment (PDF – 9.6MB)
- AquAdvantage Salmon FONSI (PDF – 252KB)
- AquAdvantage Salmon – Response to Public Comments on the Environmental Assessment
- AquAdvantage Salmon – FDA Response to Public Comments to the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee
- AquAdvantage Salmon – FDA Analysis of Potential Impacts on the Environments of the Global Commons and of Foreign Nations not Participating in the Action for NADA # 141-454
- Earth Justice Petition Regarding Pending Application of AquaBounty Technologies for Approval of Genetically-Engineered Salmon
- Food and Water Watch Petition that the FDA deem AquaBounty Technologies’ genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon an unsafe food additive
- FDA Extends Comment Period on AquAdvantage Salmon Documents
- Notice of Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact Concerning a Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon
- AquAdvantage Salmon Draft Environmental Assessment (PDF – 5.4MB)
- AquAdvantage Salmon Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact (PDF – 51KB)