US public does not want GM fish
PUBLIC SAYS NO TO TRANSGENIC FISH,
DEMANDS MANDATORY LABELING
Nearly 400,000 Citizens Send Letters to FDA Demanding Labeling of GE Fish
COMMENTS CITE MATERIAL CHANGES, AS WELL AS
CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS, AND ECONOMIC CONCERNS
Washington, DC November 23, 2010 – As the comment period on the labeling of a controversial genetically engineered salmon came to a close yesterday, the Center for Food Safety called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recognize the immense public outcry for mandatory labeling of untested, unapproved transgenic salmon. The Center lead a broad coalition of consumer, environmental, religious and animal welfare groups, along with commercial and recreational fisheries associations and food retailers, grocers and chefs in demanding the FDA deny approval of the long-shelved AquaBounty transgenic salmon and requiring mandatory labeling of the fish if approved despite intense opposition. If approved the transgenic salmon would be the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption.
“Consumers sent a clear message to FDA that they do not want to eat genetically engineered salmon and should FDA decide to move forward despite overwhelming opposition it must be labeled,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. Yesterday marked the end of a two month public comment period on the labeling of GE salmon. Nearly 400,000 public comments have been sent to FDA from the coalition, demanding the agency reject this application and require mandatory labeling of this transgenic salmon should it decide to approve it. In addition, the Center for Food Safety distributed 150,000 postcards consumers are mailing in to FDA.
Poll after poll has shown than consumers are against the commercialization of GE salmon, and that any GE fish to reach the market should be labeled as such. A Lake Research Partners poll commissioned by Food & Water Watch and released in September found that 91 percent of Americans believe FDA should not allow genetically engineered fish and meat into the marketplace. Additionally, a 2008 Consumers Union nationwide poll found that 95 percent of respondents said they thought food from genetically engineered animals should be labeled.
“FDA’s decision to go ahead with this approval process is misguided and it fails to adequately take into account the numerous human health, environmental and animal welfare concerns that have been raised,” said Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety. The FDA currently approves GE animals through its new animal drug law, yet critics fault the process as failing to require adequate safety assessments and lacking transparency and public engagement.
Recently, forty members of Congress called on the FDA to halt the approval of GE salmon and requested the agency thoroughly examine and address the serious flaws with FDA’s approval process and include greater public input and scientific scrutiny. The letter that circulated the House of Representatives was authored by Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR), Dennis Kucinich (OH), and Mike Thompson (CA) and the letter in the Senate was authored by Senator Mark Begich (AK).
Anticipating the stark danger to our fisheries and ocean environments - and trying to circumvent analyses of those dangers - AquaBounty has claimed that they will only raise their fish in land-based facilities. However, many states ban raising transgenic fish in land-based facilities. Moreover, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request revealed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knowingly withheld a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Other FOIA documents revealed serious concerns within the Fish and Wildlife Service about the approval of GE salmon.
“We all know there is a great appetite for salmon, but the solution is not to ‘farm’ genetically engineered versions to put more on our dinner tables; the solution is to work to bring our wild salmon populations back” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “This Thanksgiving week, families across the country have joined in saying no to transgenic fish.”
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