Follow up on the AquaBounty Frankenfish FDA hearing held yesterday…
Still some panel members did say the studies the F.D.A. relied on to reach its own conclusion that the salmon would be safe were flawed, often using only a few dozen fish or even fewer.
“I do get heartburn when we’re going to allow post-market surveillance to finalize our safety evaluation,” said one committee member, Michael D. Apley, a pharmacology expert at Kansas State University.
The criticisms could add to the time needed to approve the salmon. It could also provide grist for consumer and environmental groups, many of which testified on Monday that the salmon should not be approved.
Approval of the salmon could pave the way for other such biotech animals to enter the food supply, like a pig developed in Canada that has more environmentally friendly manure.
(click to continue reading Step Forward for Genetically Engineered Salmon – NYTimes.com.)
Humanity has been modifying food since agriculture was invented, but grafting apple saplings or breeding milk cows is not quite the same as modern techniques. It could be absolutely harmless, but I don’t see the need to rush the salmon to market without conducting comprehensive, exhaustive tests. Especially because the reality of a laboratory is much different than the reality of a factory farm, especially after a decade of production.
The company said that fish would not escape because they are grown inland in facilities with containment mechanisms. If any did escape, it said, the rivers outside the Canadian and Panama facilities would be too salty or warm for the fish to survive. And the fish would all be female and almost all would be sterile, so they would not interbreed with wild salmon.
But some committee members, as well as some environmental groups, said the government’s environmental assessment should evaluate what would happen if the salmon were grown widely in many facilities.
“The F.D.A. must consider issues related to realistic production scenarios,” said Anna Zivian, a senior manager at the group Ocean Conservancy.
One test showed a possible increase in the potential to cause allergic reactions that was almost statistically significant even though only six fish were used in each group in the study.
More tests please…