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FDA Closer To Approving Biotech Salmon 204

An anonymous reader writes with a story about the possibility of genetically engineered salmon showing up on your table. "A controversial genetically engineered salmon has moved a step closer to the consumer's dining table after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday the fish didn't appear likely to pose a threat to the environment or to humans who eat it. AquAdvantage salmon eggs would produce fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. If it gets a final go-ahead, it would be the first food from a transgenic animal - one whose genome has been altered - to be approved by the FDA."
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FDA Closer To Approving Biotech Salmon

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  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @02:29PM (#42382737)

    This should not be a big deal for the FDA. It's clearly a safe food product, although I would be a little put off by a "THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS GENETICALLY MODIFIED FISH" label that I think should be mandated.

    The FDA isn't really even competent to judge whether the animals are safe to introduce into the environment. It's not their area of expertise. All they can tell us is if it's safe for people to eat them. It's the EPA that should be concerned about people making frankenfish. And since if they get loose they'd be in international waters, it's a subject for the whole world to decide, or at least every country that fishes in waters where these modified salmon can survive and reproduce.

    What happens if they get released and hybridize with wild salmon? Will hybrid fish be off limits to fishermen? Will the fast-growth genes be weeded out in the wild, or will they spread across the whole wild population? (The former is more likely. If it were advantageous to the species to grow faster, they probably would grow faster.) Is this company going to come after salmon fishers the way Monsanto comes after farmers?

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @02:35PM (#42382789)
    You do know that many foods that humans have eaten for centuries have been discovered to pose a threat in recent years? I have no objection to labeling foods that have been genetically engineered by modern techniques, but exactly how are you going to define that? I take it you do not eat corn? That is a "Biotech" food by certain definitions of the term "Biotech" (including some of the definitions used by those opposing "Biotech" foods).
  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @02:47PM (#42382903)
    It's pretty much the only scientific standard available for food. Nothing is absolute, including your existence, and science recognizes that. Additionally, 'food safety' is a pretty nebulous thing once you've excluded all known toxins. Well, those fish aren't toxic, and the tests haven't found anything else more dangerous than any other salmon. As to long term effect, well, we don't really have long term effects on human consumption of any salmon other than anecdotal stuff, and on the level we interact with the salmon, it's the same as other salmon. If I gave you 10 salmon steaks and one was from a genetically modified salmon, you couldn't tell which one it was. (That's if they were raised in the same environment on the same food. Different water temps and foods can change the texture and taste of salmon, but that's environment, not genetics.)

    As a side note, I like mentioning corn. Do you really think our corn is 'natural'? Have you seen corn from a thousand years ago? I have, it looks like wheat. What we call corn now is a fast growing freakishly huge form that was created by the form of genetic manipulation techniques known as hybridization and selective breeding.

    If you're afraid of eating something just because it's genetics have been changed, you had better stop eating commercial food because pretty much everything we grow and raise has been genetically modified. It's just those were done by slower and less accurate means in the past. It was a method that has even more unintended alterations than genetic engineering and also has to be repeated many many times in an attempt to target the specific change desired while attempting to weed out some of the unintended ones that were introduced at the same time. If you don't believe me, that's fine, go look up breeding and hybridization, you'll find haphazard and unregulated it actually is.
    Now if you have a problem with something specific, like a pesticide being produced by the crop, then you might have something worth looking into. Of course, does it express in the part we eat? How do the quantities compare to 'normal' food we buy? (They get pesticide too, and in larger quantities. How much is still there after you take the food home and have washed it?) Of course, if you are just afraid because something is a 'frankenfood', your fears are baseless and I have to wonder if you enjoyed dying in your zombie apocalypse a few days ago?

    Sorry about my post being a bit disorganized and rushed, I have to hurry up and get some last minute stuff done that just came up. Have fun, and don't have a staring contest with your food, even if the food started it. :)
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @03:23PM (#42383159) Homepage Journal

    It hasn't been a quick decision. The FDA has been considering their application since 1995. []

    The critics have raised every conceivable objection to GM food, and none of them has held up. I've talked with scientists on both sides of the issue, including the Natural Resources Defense Council. The critics have made their case. Good for them. That's their job. Every point has been answered. If they can come up with something new, I'd like to hear it. But they haven't.

    I'm no fan of greedy businessmen, but I do believe in scientific progress. They have to overcome the burden of proof to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that it's safe, and they've done so.

    People who are several generations away from American (or any) agriculture don't realize that breeding and improvement of animals and plants has been going on for ten thousand years. They've done the same kind of thing with conventional breeding.

    To answer your question, they can't reproduce with wild salmon because they're triploid; they have an extra set of chromosomes.

    Even if they did -- maybe 1 out of a billion -- you'd have nothing more than the normal genetic variations in fish. Growth hormones are evolved to turn on and off in different cycles according to the environment in all kinds of animals. There are already animals with extra growth genes from conventional breeding, like Belgian bulls. It doesn't do any harm.

    Hybrid seed corn, developed by Henry A. Wallace, revolutionized American agriculture.

    It's a small improvement, and not that important by itself, but the problem with the anti-GM movement is that it's anti-science. They're in there with the anti-vaccine people. It comes down to, they don't trust corporations. I don't trust corporations either, but get your arguments right.

  • by crmarvin42 ( 652893 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @05:29PM (#42383881)
    As I've pointed out many times before. The farmer in this case intentionally collected seeds only from the field closest to and down wind from a neighbor that he knew for certain had planted Monsanto corn. He is not as innocent as commonly portrayed. That being said, I am in full agreement that the patent system needs revision on the point. Doesn't change the fact that the OP is FUD.
  • by climb_no_fear ( 572210 ) on Monday December 24, 2012 @07:31PM (#42384535)
    Actually, natural plants often have higher levels of toxins than cultivated ones but you can easily select for nasty genes with genetic engineering. Nature's chemicals and synthetic chemicals: Comparative toxicology* []

    Two examples from the paper:

    A new potato cultivar had to be withdrawn from the market because of its acute toxicity to humans-a consequence of higher levels of two natural toxins, solanine and chaconine.

    Also cassava root, a major food crop in Africa and South America, is quite resistant to pests and disease; however,it contains cyanide at such high levels that only a laborious process of washing, grinding, fermenting, and heating can make it edible.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"