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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2010
3:08 PM

CONTACT: Food & Water Watch

Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; drakestraw (at) fwwatch.org

National Consumer Organization: Halt Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon Until FDA Conducts Tests on Long-Term Health Effects of Consuming Genetically Engineered (GE) Meat

78 % of Americans Don’t Want GE Salmon Approved Without More Research; Opposition Grows Stronger for Other Transgenic Meat

WASHINGTON - September 20 - Today national consumer organization Food & Water Watch will tell the FDA it must halt the approval of AquaBounty’s AquaAdvantage salmon until the agency could do its own studies regarding the long-term effects of human consumption of genetically engineered (GE) meat.

In its public comments today at the agency’s headquarters, the organization will note the results of a recent poll it conducted with Lake Research Partners showing that 78 % of Americans believe AquaBounty’s GE product should not be approved for human consumption. Opposition grows even stronger for genetically engineered meat, with 91 % saying the FDA should not allow transgenic pigs, chicken and cattle into the food supply until the agency could perform its own safety studies.

“The FDA is on the verge of approving a product that an overwhelming number of Americans will reject unless the agency can conduct its own studies showing that it’s safe, which it hasn’t done,” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “The FDA has publicly disclosed four studies that it considered in this process. One was nearly 20 years old, and the other three were from AquaBounty itself—that hardly qualifies as independent analysis of the safety risks involved with this untested method.”

Americans are in near unanimity in their disapproval of genetically engineered fish and meat in the marketplace. The unusually high number of people polled who disapprove of the FDA’s process of approving transgenic animals prompted Joshua Ulibarri of Lake Research Partners to note, “I can’t remember a time when so many people polled were of one mind on an outcome. It’s pretty clear that people are not buying what the FDA is selling here.”

To make matters worse for consumers, the FDA could put it on the market without requiring labeling. “Based on past experience with FDA’s regulation of GE food like soy, corn and other food products, there would be no way to tell real salmon from GE salmon at the supermarket,” says Hauter.

The FDA relies on the very industries that it regulates for the data that it analyzes when approving new drugs or genetically engineered animals destined for the food supply.  The background documents released by the agency contain multiple examples of how the limited data supplied to the agency limited the conclusions that could be drawn.

The nutrition and allergenicity studies the FDA mentioned in its publicly released brief on the issue earlier this month looked at relatively small numbers of fish. The nutritional composition study looked at 144 fish. The allergenicity study included only six GE salmon (out of a total of 18 fish). Both studies were conducted by AquaBounty or its contractors.

“The FDA is relying on company data from only a handful of fish,” says Hauter. “Such flimsy science isn’t good enough to assure the public that this product is safe to eat.  This approval should be halted until the FDA can show the public that it has done a thorough review to make sure this product is safe.”

For more information on the poll, please see the memo: Attitudes Toward the FDA’s Plan on Genetically Engineered Fish

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.


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