GM Fish Set for Supermarket Shelves After U.S.
Watchdog Rules 'Frankenfish' Is Safe for Environment
modified salmon could soon be found on supermarket fish counters
after the U.S. food safety watchdog ruled it posed no environmental
risks, it emerged today.
The Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) said it could find no valid scientific
reasons to ban production of Atlantic salmon engineered with extra
genes from two other fish species.
If it is now
given final approval, the fish will be the first GM animal to hit
supermarket shelves anywhere in the world and in the U.S. they
may not even be labelled as modified.
The FDA has
already indicated the AquAdvantage salmon was safe for human consumption,
but published a draft ruling on Friday declaring it unlikely to
damage the environment.
Their two extra
genes make the fish grow twice as fast as normal Atlantic salmon
and supporters say it could make land-based fish farms much easier
and cheaper to run.
of the 'Frankenfish' technology warn it could escape and interbreed
with wild fish, undermining the genetics of the already-endangered
Atlantic salmon known as the 'king of fishes'.
They also argue
that commercial production of the salmon could be beginning of concerted
efforts to concoct other GM animals for human consumption, raising
concerns about animal welfare and human health.
There are now
few hurdles remaining before the GM fish can be lawfully produced
and sold in shops in the U.S., which could put pressure on the UK
and Europe to follow suit.
and EU bodies would have to review the technology before it could
be approved in the UK, but sucessive government chief scientists
have already backed GM as a concept for increasing food production.
So far, it
is only consumer opposition that has blocked the approval of GM
foods in the UK, although some products on supermarket shelves already
contain GM ingredients and they are regularly found in animal feed.
salmon are all female, possess three chromosomes instead of the
usual two, and grow to market size in 16 to 18 months instead of
the usual 30 required for Atlantic salmon.
Technologies, the company behind the fish, claim the risk of interbreeding
with wild salmon is low because their fish are all sterile and grown
in secure containers on land-based fish farms.
The FDA's draft
assessment, part of a New Animal Drug Application (NADA), agrees
with the company, ruling that the possibility of the GM salmon escaping
into rivers and the sea is 'extremely unlikely', The Independent
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