GM-free Scotland (Archive)

News | November '10 | GM salmon - measurably different

The AquaBounty company's GM salmon, genetically transformed to grow faster than its conventional cousin, is “an Atlantic salmon in every measurable way” (AquaBounty Chief Executive).

The GM fish do seem to be the same in every measurable way, except:

The extra chromosomes are induced using pressure-shock treatment of the eggs. This is a technical trick used to supply fish-farms with sterile fish-fry. The malformations are commonly seen in fish which grow unnaturally fast. Apart from this, the measurable differences are directly or indirectly caused by the genetic transformation.
Fitness of the GM salmon to survive in the wild, or to threaten wildlife, has
 not been measured. Nor has there been any measurement of health-parameters in animals or humans fed the GM salmon. But, don't worry, AquaBounty assure us it has conducted several taste tests, and “people like it just fine”.
America has resisted drafting laws for GMOs. As a result, its food safety watch-dog, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to have got itself into a fine muddle trying to apply existing, inappropriate, regulations to novel life-forms.
In FDA eyes, AquaBounty's genes and the proteins produced by them are 'drugs'. The GM salmon which contain the novel materials have, therefore, themselves become drugs. However, these swimming 'drugs' have bizarrely escaped all the usual animal and clinical trials deemed essential since the Thalidomide disaster in the late 1950s. Since DNA, protein and salmon are all officially 'generally recognised as safe', no testing is required even if they are 'drugs'.
Being a 'drug' allows the safety assessment submitted by the company to be hidden from public view. It has been revealed, however, that the data submitted by AquaBounty on morphological abnormalities involved only 12 fish, while the tests for allergenicity involved only 6 infertile fish plus 6 fertile fish (the ones which won't be marketed).
The FDA seems to have contrived to side-step all the obvious problems of raising and eating GM animals. For example:

Which brings us full circle to the GM salmon which are “an Atlantic salmon in every measurable way. Every measurable way, that is, except in the ways they're measurably different


The biggest issue here is the absurdly deficient regulations for approving GM animals in the US: the FDA simply does not have an appropriate evaluation method, to the point of farce.

For more about the problems with GM salmon, which the FDA's muddled regulatory process can't even begin to cope with see
FREAKY FISH, News November 2010).
Also, if you have any poor, confused friends or relatives in America who can't understand food labels, perhaps you could explain to them.