News call to stop GM salmon reaching consumers –

News call to stop GM salmon reaching consumers Published:  28 July, 2011

PRESSURE is growing in North America from two sources to call a halt to the development of genetically modified salmon.

In the United States a group of lawmakers have appealed to the US Food and Drug Administration to take heed of those members of the Congress who are opposed to it reaching the tables of consumers.

Meanwhile, a study in Canada claims to have established that GM salmon (sometimes called genetically engineered or GE salmon) can breed with its wild counterpart, thus weakening the stock.

A group of US House and Senate lawmakers have written to the FDA urging it to not approve the GE fish, citing serious economic and environmental concerns. In their letter, senators from salmon fishing states said: “Given the strong and growing congressional opposition to the approval of GE fish in both chambers, spending time on further review of GE fish would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. The FDA hasn’t considered all of the potential negative impacts of genetically-altered fish and the strong opposition in Congress to approving something that could decimate wild salmon populations.”

GM salmon has been developed by the aquaculture company AquaBounty, which argues strongly that it poses no threat to human health and will be kept out of wild salmon populations. An FDA report last year said the salmon is safe to eat and will not harm the environment.

But researchers at the Memorial University of Newfoundland say that if genetically modified Atlantic salmon were to escape from captivity they could succeed in breeding and passing their genes into the wild. Their research is published in the journal “Revolutionary Applications”.

Darek Moreau, from the university, said: “The use of growth-enhancing transgenic technologies has long been of interest to the aquaculture industry and now genetically modified Atlantic salmon is one of the first species to be considered for commercial farming. Yet, little is known about the potential impact on wild salmon populations if the GM species were to escape captivity.

“So we basically put these fish together and allowed them to do what they do that time of the year and recorded the results….. We found the transgenics had a much reduced breeding performance but they did, in fact, show an interest in breeding and the ability to breed.”

He said the study should raise concerns about the possible release of modified salmon through accidents at fish farms.