GM salmon encounters regulatory problems

The Inter Press News Service, Washington USA, reports, 29th October 2014: “Officials in Panama have fined the local facility of a U.S. biotechnology company for a series of permitting and regulatory failures around a pioneering attempt to create genetically modified salmon.

The experiments are being carried out by researchers for AquaBounty Technologies, which currently has an application with the U.S. government to sell genetically modified (GM) salmon fillets in this country. If regulators approve that application, AquaBounty’s salmon would be the first genetically modified meat sold for human consumption anywhere in the world.

Some 60 major U.S. food retailers have already pledged not to sell GE salmon.

Some 60 major U.S. food retailers have already pledged not to sell GE salmon.
Credit: Kevin Galens/cc by 2.0

Further, companies in the United States and around the globe are said to be actively watching U.S. regulators’ response to AquaBounty’s application as a critical indication of whether to proceed with other GM meat projects.

“AquaBounty is really out front on this – the current case will set an important precedent,” Dana Perls, a food and technology campaigner at Friends of the Earth, a watchdog group, told IPS. From what we know, there are about 35 other genetically modified species in the development pipelines in other companies. So depending on what happens in this case, we’ll likely either see a flow of other permits or this will demonstrate that there isn’t room on the market for GM meat or seafood.”

AquaBounty’s application with the U.S. government would involve getting fillets of the new GM salmon from the company’s breeding facility in Panama and into the U.S. market. Advocates are now pointing to the Panamanian authorities’ findings of regulations violations as an indication that the U.S. regulatory process is proceeding too quickly in considering the salmon application.

“The impacts GM foods will have on health and the environment have not been sufficiently assessed to approve human consumption of this salmon,” Luisa Arauz Arredondo, an attorney with the Panama Centre for Environmental Advocacy, which filed the administrative complaint against AquaBounty, told IPS.

She notes that while AquaBounty’s facilities in Panama have permission to run experiments on the salmon, the country has not approved anything further.

Source: Inter Press News Service, 29th October 2014. For full details, see: www.ipsnews.net/2014/10/panama-regulators-could-slow-u-s-approval-of-gm-salmon

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