Friday, November 20, 2015

GMO Salmon Spawns Huffman's Ire

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 11:30 AM

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Congressman Jared Huffman is not having the fish. According to a press release, Huffman is "deeply concerned" about the Food and Drug Administration's approval of genetically engineered salmon. He cites the engineered salmon's potential to damage wild salmon populations, ecosystems and the fishing industry, as well as the lack of labeling requirements for producers. The congressman is co-sponsoring legislation to ban GE fish.

After what it calls "an exhaustive and rigorous scientific review," the FDA has declared genetically engineered salmon, specifically from AquaBounty Technologies, as safe and nutritious to eat as the natural stuff, according to the agency's website. AquaBounty's AquaAdvantage salmon are engineered to grow faster and the FDA's analysis of peer reviewed data and information supplied by the company determined that the inserted genes "remained stable over several generations of fish." The agency says AquaBounty's farms are secure, so it's "extremely unlikely that the fish could escape and establish themselves in the wild."

There's no law in place requiring manufacturers of either the fish themselves or products containing engineered fish to label the food as such. Instead, the agency offers draft guidelines for companies who voluntarily label the lox that ends up on your bagel.

Read Huffman's press release below.
WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today blasted announcements from the FDA approving the application for AquAdvantage salmon, the first genetically-engineered (GE) animal sanctioned for human consumption. The agency also determined that manufacturers of AquAdvantage salmon will not be required to label the salmon as genetically-engineered.

“I am deeply concerned with FDA’s decision to approve AquaBounty’s application,” said Huffman, the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Wild Salmon Caucus. “This is not just approving a ‘new ingredient’ concocted in a lab: by approving GE salmon, the FDA is allowing the release of a new hybrid animal that could pose a danger to our wild salmon populations, damage the ecosystems they live in, and undermine our domestic commercial fisheries. Consumers rightly support domestic and sustainable wild salmon fisheries, and this product will create confusion. It has no place in our waters or on America’s dinner plates. I will continue to work with my colleagues and industry stakeholders—like Whole Foods and Trader Joes—who have already come out opposed to GE salmon, to halt this hazardous action by FDA.”

Huffman, who serves as the Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, is a co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation that would effectively ban all GE fish in the United States by prohibiting the shipment, sale, transportation, purchase, procession, or release into the wild of GE salmon or other GE finfish unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service completes a full environmental impact statement and concludes that it will result in no such impact to the environment.

Huffman was joined in his concerns by legislators from across the country including Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01), and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), all of whom are ardent supporters of GMO labeling and providing consumers the right to know what’s in their food. The legislators are all co-sponsors of Congressman DeFazio’s bill, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, legislation that would require mandatory labeling of genetically-engineered foods, including genetically-engineered salmon.

Despite polling demonstrating that 90 percent of Americans support requiring mandatory GMO labeling, the FDA moved forward with a decision to finalize the existing policy which does not adequately inform consumers of the content of the food they buy. The policy allows manufacturers to voluntarily label their products as containing ingredients from genetically-engineered sources rather than requiring companies to disclose genetically-engineered ingredients.

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