In a potential blow to the future of the biotech industry, a handful of House lawmakers voted last night to bar the Food and Drug Administration from approving any bioengineered salmon for mass consumption.
A terse amendment (pdf) offered by Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) would ban FDA from spending any funds on genetically engineered salmon approvals beginning in the next financial year. Less than a dozen lawmakers voted by voice to attach the amendment to an agriculture spending bill expected to pass the House this week.
The amendment is squarely aimed at preventing the approval of a fast-growing modified salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies. For years, FDA has considered approving the salmon for limited cultivation in inland tanks, and last fall the agency held public meetings considering the approval, drawing broad public notice. The largely sterile salmon could be the first bioengineered animal approved for human consumption.
"This sort of political gamesmanship undermines the science-based regulatory process," said Ronald Stotish, AquaBounty's CEO. "It is astonishing that Young and the very few representatives present during this vote -- less than the number of fingers on both hands -- would try to game the system in this way."