From frankenfoods to frankenfish?

Petitions circulating in light of the fact that the FDA is poised to approve GE salmon

As if GE corn and soy weren’t disconcerting enough
Recently, local master gardener Carla Resnick sent me a link to a article on genetically engineered salmon. As writer Kathy Will points out, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking at “possibly approving genetically engineered (GE) salmon.”

Indeed, “on December 21, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its environmental assessment on genetically engineered salmon, one of the last steps in the approval process. A public comment period is open through February 25, 2013,” said the Center for Food Safety. “The AquAdvantage salmon, produced by AquaBounty Technologies, would be the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption.

“The genetically engineered Atlantic salmon being considered was developed by artificially combining growth hormone genes from an unrelated Pacific salmon … with DNA from the anti-freeze genes of an eelpout.” This genetic modification causes the year-round production of growth hormone, resulting in a fish claimed by AquaBounty to grow at twice its normal rate.

Food & Water Watch Director Wenonah Hauter, the author of Foodopoly: The Battle over the Future of Food and Farming in America, “describes some of the potential problems and concerns with what she calls ‘frankenfish.’ … Since the FDA has no regulatory process for legalizing these animals, they are using the process designed for veterinary drugs,” writes Will. “This ‘guarantees a high level of secrecy during the process because company data and research are considered trade secrets,’ according to [Hauter’s] book.”

Of the four studies of GE salmon looked at by the FDA, “one is twenty years old, and the others were conducted by AquaBounty and its contractors and were not reviewed by scientific peers,” notes Will. Also, studies on possible allergic reactions to the fish “used only six salmon. This is especially problematic because of the salmon’s high protein content. High protein foods are more likely to cause allergic reactions.”

Among other concerns raised are that the huge GE salmon will escape into the wild (as farmed salmon do) and outcompete wild salmon for food. As the Center for Food Safety points out, “research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a release of just sixty GE fish into a wild population of 60,000 would lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 fish generations.”

Go to to sign the Center for Food Safety’s petition, which will be submitted to the FDA the close of the public comment period. Go to to sign the Institute for Responsible Technology’s anti-GE-salmon petition. Go to to take part in Food & Water Watch’s email campaign to Congress to stop FDA approval of GE salmon.

Rest in peace, Patrick Yang.

kyle delmar

Learn more about GE fish at Go to to read Will’s article.

The passing of a good man
I received the sad news that local farmer and popular longtime Saturday farmers’ market vendor Patrick Yang (pictured) died early in the morning of Feb. 1 after a battle with cancer. Yang—who was loved by many, including his numerous devoted customers (and their babies!), who loved his gentle, friendly manner as much as his excellent, healthful produce—was surrounded by family members and friends when he passed. Rest in peace, Patrick.