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

l of experts that advises the FDA paved the way for the approval of the genetically modified salmon, calling it "as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon."

The FDA's Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee went on to say that the fish contained the same amount of nutrients and had "no biologically relevant differences" from ordinary farmed Atlantic salmon.

That's what worries consumer advocates, who say approving the salmon is opening the door to all sorts of genetically engineered animals, such as pigs and other mammals.

The FDA is regulating genetically engineered animals as it would a new veterinary drug, which means that much of the research and information about the product is being kept confidential, said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C.

"We don't know if it's safe for humans to eat and the only research that has been done was done by the company," according to Hauter. "The FDA is an under-resourced agency that has had so much trouble with the regulatory system for foods -- we've had tainted eggs, poisonous peanuts and other contaminations -- and is now taking on something in a very non-transparent way."

Recently, Food & Water Watch was joined by 30 other animal welfare, consumer, environmental and fisheries groups, including the Sierra Club, which issued a statement citing concerns that the fish could escape and pose an environmental threat. Previously, another group of consumer advocates and others warned that "transgenic fish" could introduce new or unknown allergens into the food supply.

AquaBounty creates its salmon by taking a growth gene from the Chinook salmon and a gene "promoter" from the ocean pout, another type of fish, said John Buchanan, AquaBounty's director of research and development. The pout gene promoter simply turns on the Chinook salmon growth gene, and is not actually "expressed" [active] in the modified fish. The resulting salmon grow to mar
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