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FDA Advisers Consider Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon
Date:9/21/2010

irector 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 market weight about twice as fast as ordinary Atlantic salmon, though they don't get larger overall.

While it typically takes about three years for salmon to grow to market weight, AquaBounty's salmon get there in about 18 months, Buchanan said.

To safeguard the environment, Buchanan said the eggs will be treated so that all fish that grow from them will be sterile females. That means they will not be able to reproduce, nor will they come into contact with males to reproduce with, said Buchanan, whose firm would sell the treated eggs.

While farm-raised salmon are typically grown in ocean-based tanks, the genetically modified fish would be grown in land-based tanks, also minimizing the chances of escape, he said.

"We have done a tremendous amou
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