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Organic Consumers Association

Troubling Emails Reveal Federal Scientists Fear FDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon

After submitting a Freedom of Information Act request, the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch received numerous recent internal documents and emails from the U.S. Department of Interior's Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) exposing startling concerns with AquaBounty salmon - a controversial genetically engineered (GE) fish the FDA may soon approve as the first GE food animal for human consumption.

The documents reveal that, as late as last month, the FDA had not adequately fulfilled a requirement under the Endangered Species Act to consult with both FWS and another federal agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), to determine whether approval of AquaBounty's salmon might impact wild, endangered Atlantic salmon.

"Nice work Greg," Denise Hawkins, PhD, FWS Regional Geneticist wrote to a coworker in September. "Especially pointing out that there is no data to support the claims of low survival in the event of escape, which I agree with you all is a big concern.  I also agree that using triploid fish [which AquaBounty claim have undergone a sterilization process] is not foolproof.  Maybe they [the FDA] should watch Jurassic Park."

Despite AquaBounty's claim to produce only sterile salmon, the company admitted that up to 5 percent of their GE salmon eggs could be fertile, prompting the FDA to label the company's claims "potentially misleading".


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