U. S. Panel To Consider Pros, Cons Of GMO Salmon – for Sep. 23, 2010

The first genetically modified animal could move one step closer to the U. S. market this month, when a federal advisory panel makes its recommendation on whether such food– a salmon – is safe for consumers to eat.

Both Food and Drug Administration staff and the salmon’s maker, Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc., have said the faster growing fish appears to be the same as normal Atlantic salmon and poses no threat to the environment or diners.

But consumer advocates, environmentalists and others have protested the move. They say there is not enough data to show that eating it does not cause side effects such as allergic reactions or that accidental escape will not harm other fish.

On Sept. 20, an FDA panel of medical experts was to advise the FDA on whether there is “reasonable certainty” that the engineered salmon is safe to eat or if there is a potential environmental threat.

If approved, Aqua Bounty’s salmon would be the first, genetically altered animal for consumption in the United States.

Approval could also pave the way for other genetically altered food animals in the works, like pigs and cows.

One major area of concern is, if the salmon is approved, whether consumers will know when they are buying it.

Current FDA rules only call for special labels for altered food when there is a “material difference” in the product’s end result. The company and FDA staff both say tests show the fish’s composition appears similar to normal fish.

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