Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Genetically modified salmon to reach American supermarkets

Note by Marc Aupiais

I react to most medicines, and most ordinary foods. I am on high doses of ultra-purified Omega 3, having never recovered from a dangerous sickness in my youth- this concerns me, deeply: (paragraphing added [the device I use to quote destroys natural paragraphing, so I have had to guess where it was- that is the only alteration])

"As a result, the AquAdvantage Salmon reach a market weight of around 3kg (6.6lb) in 16-18 months instead of the three years for farmed fish. In theory, they would reach around 6kg after three years, which would be double the size of most natural salmon of the same age. The growth is speeded up by the insertion of two genes, one linked to the production of growth hormone and a second to ensure growth continues even in very cold temperatures. The technology allows fish farmers to produce many more salmon at much lower cost, so boosting output and profits. The scientists behind the salmon have created safeguards to prevent any danger of them escaping and breeding with the wild population. These include ensuring all the fish involved are female and sterile. Now, two expert reports commissioned by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have concluded it is safe for GM salmon to go into production.

On health, the scientists on the Veterinary Medicines Advisory Committee said there are 'no material differences' between GM and conventional salmon.

They say the fish contains the expected amounts of nutritionally important omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

They concluded: 'Food from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe to eat as food from other Atlantic salmon.' And they added 'there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption'.

However, they admitted there are gaps in the research looking at whether some types of GM fish  -  not those currently planned for dinner tables  -  might cause an allergic reaction.

On the environment, a second team of scientists concluded the safeguards put in place by Aqua Bounty would be sufficient to allow production to go ahead.

Initially, the eggs would be produced in Canada, then shipped to Panama to be grown and then killed. Over time the technology would be extended worldwide.

The FDA is due to make a final decision this month on whether to approve the GM salmon.

But a coalition of 31 U.S. consumer, animal welfare, environmental and fisheries groups is opposing approval.

They claim tests used to show the safety of the GM salmon were based on very small samples and point out that some of the fish had higher levels of growth hormone in their bloodstream, which is claimed to create a cancer risk.

While the GM fish are supposed to be sterile, critics said up to 5 per cent might be able to conceive and breed if they got into the wild. Pete Riley, director of campaign group GM Freeze, said: 'We are extremely concerned about the potential for these fish to escape.'"

Sean Poulter ( ) writing for the Daily Mail (United Kingdom based; Independent of the State; secular/general interest coverage) 08 / 09 | September / 2010

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