Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Further research and special labeling urged for genetically engineered salmon

Earlier this month we reported the Food and Drug Administration was moving ahead with its decision to approve genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. The independent panel made up largely of veterinary scientists, convened by the FDA to discuss the salmon decision said yesterday, "while a genetically engineered salmon is almost certainly safe to eat, the government should pursue a more rigorous analysis of the fish's possible health effects and environmental impact," Paul Voosen of Greenwire reports for The New York Times. Since the salmon decision will likely carry heavy precedent in the future, the board said the agency should be especially rigorous in its evaluation. (Read more)

Meanwhile, consumer groups are pushing for FDA to require genetically-engineered salmon to be labeled as such, while industry groups say no labeling is needed. "The FDA said it couldn't require a genetically modified product to carry a different label under current food-labeling rules, unless there was something materially different about the product," Jennifer Corbett Dooren of The Wall Street Journal reports. "A preliminary review of AquaBounty's salmon hasn't found any major differences between it and conventional Atlantic salmon."

"The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine will make a decision on whether to approve the modified salmon, while the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition will make a decision on the label," Dooren writes, noting both decisions are likely months away. Alexis Baden-Mayer, who represented the Organic Consumers Association, said that "consumers want to know if their fish is genetically engineered." (Read more)

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