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New On the Menu: Genetically Modified Salmon?
Date:9/13/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may soon approve genetically modified salmon for humans to eat, a prospect that is raising concern among some consumer advocates who consider the fish a threat to both health and the environment.

On Sept. 3, a scientific panel of experts that advises the FDA paved the way for the approval of 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 -- AquAdvantage Salmon developed by Waltham, Mass.-based AquaBounty Technologies -- contained the same amount of nutrients and had "no biologically relevant differences" from ordinary farmed Atlantic salmon. The FDA is scheduled to hold public hearings on the issue from Sept. 19 to 21.

If AquaBounty's salmon is approved, it would mark the first time a genetically modified animal has been approved for America's dinner plates and restaurant menus.

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, cons
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