Groups criticize delay in release of GE salmon documents

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently drawn criticism over the delayed release of documents evaluating the environmental impact of genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Created by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, the GE salmon in question evidently contain genes from Chinook salmon as well as ocean pout that allow the company to bring the fish to market in half the normal time. After a publicly contentious review process, FDA released the May 4, 2012, draft assessment and a preliminary finding of no significant impact in late December, raising questions among groups such as the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) about whether the agency froze the application to avoid political turmoil during the election season.

“The delay, sources within the government say, came after meeting with the White House, which was debating the political implications of approving the [GE] salmon, a move likely to infuriate a portion of its base,” GLP Executive Director Jon Entine wrote in a December 19, 2012, article published by Slate. com. In 2010, FDA found that AquAdvantage salmon were safe for human consumption and the environment, needing only to decide whether the fish pose any threat to wild salmon under the Endangered Species Act. According to GLP, the agency should have published its finding of “no effect” in the Federal Register as soon as it reached this conclusion, the final step in an approval process that began in 1995.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” agreed Center for Science in the Public Interest Director of Biotechnology Gregory Jaffe despite the consumer group’s qualms about GE foods. “AquaBounty deserves regulatory due process. We need science-based decisions made in a timely fashion. The public deserves this, and there are questions whether that is what’s going on in this case.”

View the full article here: Groups criticize delay in release of GE salmon documents

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