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CLF Responds to FDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon

Nov 19, 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that Genetically Engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon has been approved for human consumption. Public health and aquaculture experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) previously submitted comments to the FDA in 2010 and 2013, raising public health and ecological concerns regarding the potential approval of GE salmon. The announcement today indicates that the FDA ignored these concerns. “FDA’s approval of GE salmon was based on a process that was not designed to evaluate the full extent of potential health risks associated with production and consumption of a genetically engineered animal,” says Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH, Director of the Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project at CLF.

The earlier CLF comments identified numerous public health and ecosystem issues unique to GE food animals, including the risk of introducing the genetically-altered animal into sensitive ecosystems and food safety concerns. The process used by FDA did not consider all relevant environmental impacts and relies upon flawed and insufficient food safety data provided by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., the company seeking approval. “A comprehensive review process would not only thoroughly evaluate environmental risks and require robust food safety data, it would also consider relevant economic, social, and cultural issues, which go well beyond the FDA’s new animal drug approval process,” said Dave Love, PhD, MSPH, an Associate Scientist at CLF. The FDA’s decision to not require labeling of the first GE animal approved to enter the U.S. food supply will make it challenging to track potential food safety impacts, and does not provide consumers information necessary to make informed choices.