By Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Fish or frankenfish? A U.S. company wants to market a genetically engineered version of Atlantic salmon, and regulators are weighing the request. If approval is given, it would be the first time the government allowed such modified animals to join the foods that go onto American dinner tables.
Ron Stotish, chief executive of AquaBounty, said at Monday’s first of two days of hearings that his company’s fish product is safe and environmentally sustainable.
Food and Drug Administration officials have largely agreed with him, saying that the salmon, which grows twice as fast as conventional ones,” is as safe to eat as the traditional variety. But they have not yet decided whether to approve the request.
Critics call the modified salmon a “frankenfish” that could cause allergies in humans and the eventual decimation of the wild salmon population. An FDA advisory committee is reviewing the science of the genetically engineered fish this week and hearing such criticisms as the agency ponders approval.
Whether the public will have an appetite for it is another matter. Genetic engineering is already widely used for crops, but the government until now has not considered allowing the consumption of modified animals. Although the potential benefits — and profits — are huge, many people have qualms about manipulating the genetic code of other living creatures.
Part of the hearing is focusing on labeling of the fish. It is possible that if the modified salmon is approved, consumers would not even know they were eating it. Current FDA regulations require modified foods to be labeled as such only if the food is substantially different from the conventional version, and the agency has said that the modified salmon is essentially the same as the Atlantic salmon.
If approved, the fish could be in grocery stores in two years, the company estimates. Read Entire Article HERE…