Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FDA seems willing to gamble on introducing gene-altered animals

News that U.S. food safety regulators were preparing to authorize the introduction of genetically altered salmon into the nation's food supply is another obvious failure on the part of the deteriorating Obama administration. Rather than order the Food and Drug Administration to be sensible and undertake an exhaustive examination of risks posed by the new science of altering animals genetically, the Obama administration apparently plans to sit this one out, too. FDA officials have scheduled a hearing Monday on the application by AquAdvantage Salmon to produce salmon injected with growth hormones that mature twice as fast as salmon without the hormones, according to Cable News Network (CNN). The altered salmon would grow faster and mature earlier than wild or farmed salmon. "The food from AquAdvantage Salmon that is the subject of this application is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from the consumption of food from this animal," FDA officials concluded, CNN said. But let's think for a minute. Even if what the FDA says is true, is a "reasonable certainty" justification enough to gamble the future of the ecosystem that supports life? That's crazy thinking, right? The executive director of the nonprofit Food and Water Watch called the decision "rushed" and said the FDA can't even protect the safety of the food supply without adding gene-altered foods to its already overcrowded agenda. "It's impossible to talk about the risks other than saying they haven't been properly assessed, other than process has been rushed and we don't know," Wenonah Hauter told CNN. Hauter also said the FDA based its decision on information provided by AquAdvantage and should be thoroughly checking the data instead of simply accepting it. That doesn't seem to be an unreasonable request, considering what's at risk if anyone makes a mistake.

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