Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Keeping it real: Fishers fight to stop federal approval of genetically engineered salmon

Fishers in Alaska fear that the introduction of genetically engineered salmon into the marketplace could damage their businesses and have a drastic effect on the quality of the product available to consumers.

AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based company with a lab on Prince Edward Island in Canada and growing facilities in Panama, is awaiting a decision from the Food and Drug Administration
on whether it can sell genetically engineered salmon to U.S. consumers.

An FDA study concluded that eating the genetically engineered salmon is as safe as eating conventional Atlantic salmon and found no environmental harm in farming the fish. AquaBounty wants its fish to be labeled as Atlantic salmon. They say the nutritional and biological composition is identical to Atlantic salmon, and therefore doesn’t require additional labeling based on its method of production.

Fishers in Alaska fear that the genetically engineered fish would threaten their livelihood. "The threat may not be immediate, but I think down the line there could be some repercussions," fisherman Kim Hubert told McClatchy Newspapers. "We’ve had a lot of issues with labeling, and the ability (of consumers) to choose and know where the fish come from: what kind of stocks, whether they’re farmed or wild fish."

Lawmakers and lobbies in Western states are fighting the proposal for genetically engineered fish, and at the very least, are asking that labels be required. “We just think it’s really deficient on the food front,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch. “What do we really know about allergies? What do we know about nutrition profile? That stuff’s really sketchy in that application that they put in. And we’d like to see a lot more of that, considering you’re going to eat the whole thing.” (McClatchy-Tribune graphic)


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