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For about 5 years now, the FDA has been considering this application for this genetically engineered salmon. Again, they are giving it a pretty nice name, calling it the AquAdvantage, that somehow or another this gives an advantage to the salmon. Well, it does. What it does is allow this genetically engineered fish–I don’t even know that I want to call it a fish–this genetically engineered organism to grow twice as fast as any other salmon in the water.
So how does it get to grow twice as fast? Well, it doesn’t happen naturally. It is not the way Mother Nature orders it. What they do is they start messing with it. This process, which has now been approved by the FDA, is a process that splices genetic material from a Chinook salmon, a king salmon, and it takes that genetic material and it integrates it with a pout fish and an Atlantic salmon. People might know about an Atlantic salmon, a farmed salmon. What is an ocean pout? Let me show my colleagues what an ocean pout is. An ocean pout is basically this eel-type of bottom fish. Those of my colleagues who know their salmon know about the Chinooks, the sockeyes, and the chums, and they know that this isn’t anything close to a salmon, whether it is a wild Alaskan salmon or whether it is a farmed salmon. This is an eel. We are taking a splice from this, and we are taking a splice from an Atlantic salmon, and we are basically splicing this with a Chinook salmon. The resulting organism, this company claims, is going to grow to the size of an Alaskan king salmon in a shorter period of time than that found in nature. Freaky. We call this combination “Frankenfish” because it is just not right. It is just not right. It disturbs me, quite honestly, that the FDA would sign off on the approval of a genetically engineered animal designed for human consumption. This is the first time ever.
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Somehow or other, the FDA says they are going to maintain regulatory oversight over the production and the facilities, and they are going to conduct inspections to confirm that adequate physical containment measures remain in place. They will be working with the Canadian and Panamanian governments to be conducting inspections. Really? Do I feel safer about making sure that our wild and healthy stocks are going to be not infiltrated by the Frankenfish, by these genetically engineered organisms designed for human consumption, designed to grow twice as fast to get to the size of a king salmon, so that a company can derive the benefit of selling more of this fish.
The FDA has said there will be draft guidance on voluntary labeling indicating whether food has or has not been derived from GE Atlantic salmon. So, basically, if you want to put a label on that says this is a fake fish, a fake salmon, you can go ahead, but you don’t have to. It is only voluntary. That is not good enough for this mom. That is not good enough for most who care about what their families are eating. So we are going to continue to press for mandatory labeling if the FDA is going to approve–wrongheadedly, in my mind–this genetically engineered fake fish for human consumption. They darn well better agree that labeling will be required because I am not going to eat it.
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