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Consumer Activists Want Modified Salmon to Be Labeled
Date:9/22/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Opponents of genetically modified salmon, as well as consumer activists and environmentalists, told a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel Tuesday that it would be irresponsible not to require labels on the fish if it is approved for humans to eat.

The American public has the right to know what it is consuming, the speakers said.

The advisory panel heard from opponents and supporters of the fish -- including the developer of the fish, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies -- as it held two days of hearings that concluded Tuesday to review the science of the fish that grows twice as fast as conventional salmon, and to hear public comment on whether the fish should be labeled. Current federal guidelines would not require the fish to be labeled if the FDA determines the animal has the same material makeup as conventional salmon, the Associated Press reported.

AquaBounty says that genetically modified salmon has the same flavor, texture, color and odor as conventional fish.

The FDA has yet to decide if the fish can be sold to consumers or whether it should be labeled, and it could be months before the agency does so, the AP said.

If the FDA approves the fish, it would mark the first time a genetically modified animal has been approved for America's dinner plates and restaurant menus. Currently, genetically modified soybeans and corn are being sold for people to eat.

AquaBounty believes that, if approved, the fish could help reduce pollution, disease and other problems associated with saltwater fish farms, as well as provide an alternative source of seafood to help reduce the impact of overfishing.

But opponents of approval, including many consumer advocates, worry that the fish would pose a threat to both the health of consumers and the environment.

On Sept. 3, a scientific pane
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