Petition and further action challenge proposed licensing of GM salmon

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is shortly expected to license an application by the biotech firm, AquaBounty, for commercial breeding of a GM salmon. We provide below a short Marinet Briefing on why this is potentially so dangerous, and advise on the action which consumers can take in the UK.

At the same time, Avaaz (the global petition site) has produced a petition specifically asking the US FDA not to licence this GM application. We recommend signing this petition as the FDA is legally obligated to consider public opinion before arriving at its licensing decision. The petition is at

Briefing for Marinet members and supporters.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA is moving closer [Footnote 1] to giving final approval to a GM breed of salmon which is being developed by the US/Canadian company, AquaBounty. The FDA has already certified that this modification will have no adverse effect on those who eat it, and the FDA has now decided that it will have no adverse effect on the US environment. The FDA is now seeking public comment before proceeding to a final decision at the end of February 2013.

Therefore approval of this GM salmon is imminent. It grows at twice the rate of its natural counterpart and contains genesgene A string of the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule that is the fundamental unit of inheritance, so it is variations in the make up of this molecule in the gene that controls variations in an organism's appearance and behaviour. Genes are found in the nucleus of the organism's cells. from the Chinook salmon and the Ocean pout (an eel-like fish), giving the GM salmon extra growth hormones. The proposal is that the GM salmon will be used in fish farms

There is a grave risk that GM salmon will interbreed with wild salmon, thus effectively eliminating the wild Atlantic salmon which is already under severe threat [Footnote 2] and the Alaskan salmon, which is the last wild stock that is still in good health and capable of being harvested sustainably. It is often said that GM modified species are sterile, but AquaBounty have admitted that in the case of its GM salmon this is only 98% true [Footnote 3]. Also salmon is carnivorous and so feeding farmed salmon requires the harvesting of wild fish in the ratio of 3 kg of wild fish to produce 1 kg of farmed fish. A GM breed which grows at twice the speed could therefore, in theory, increase the number of farmed fish 2 fold at each farming unit, thus increasing the pressure on wild fish stocks for food by the same degree.

Therefore if farmed salmon threaten the extinction of wild salmon, it is most likely that the creation of GM farmed salmon will make the extinction of all wild salmon species virtually inevitable. How can we stop this ?

The only certain way is to prevent GM salmon being licensed. Can this be achieved?

One certain way that this can occur is if the fish farmers themselves say that they do not want GM salmon. Is this likely?

This can be made likely if the consumer, ordinary people, stop eating farmed salmon and say “we do not like GM salmon, and we will boycott and no longer buy any farmed salmon until you give us an assurance that you will not use GM salmon”. [Footnote.4].

Thus, you hit the GM industry and the salmon farming industry where it hurts and matters – in their wallet.

Therefore will you take a decision to implement this boycott of farmed salmon, and implement this boycott until the fish farming industry itself says No to GM ?

4. The only exception in this boycott is organically reared salmon, which prohibits use of GM salmon by definition.

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