House Vote Blocks FDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon

The US House of Representatives last week passed an amendment that blocks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving genetically engineered (GE) salmon – the first genetically engineered animal intended for human consumption.

During full floor debate of the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture and FDA appropriations bill, members of the House passed an amendment offered by Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) to prohibit use of FDA funds to approve any application for approval of genetically engineered salmon.

The full appropriations bill, The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2112), passed on Thursday by a 217-203 vote.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) applauded passage of the amendment:

"We thank members of the House for stepping in to correct FDA’s misguided decision to go ahead with this approval process which fails to take into account a plethora of economic, human health, environmental and animal welfare concerns," says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. "Any decision to approve GE salmon would be a continuation of the Obama Administration’s illogical biotech bailout at the expense of American jobs and our fishing economy."

The FDA currently approves GE animals through its new animal drug law, yet critics fault the process as failing to require adequate safety assessments and lacking transparency and public engagement. The decision to regulate GE animals as animal drugs was announced by FDA in 2009 in the form of a Guidance to Industry, a non-binding form of regulation.

"We need a robust regulatory system that assesses the full suite of economic, human health, environmental and animal welfare risks posed by GE animals and allows for full and open public participation," adds Colin O’Neil, Regulatory Policy Analyst for the Center for Food Safety.

In September 2010, more than 40 members of Congress sent letters requesting FDA halt the approval of the long-shelved AquaBounty transgenic salmon.

"The FDA’s hastily completed approval process puts American consumers and the environment at risk. GE salmon could be devastating to fishing and coastal communities, our food source, and already depleted wild salmon populations. The FDA should put the interests and safety of American families and our ocean resources above special interests," Rep. DeFazio said in September.

In February, Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced complimentary legislation that would ban genetically engineered (GE) fish and require mandatory labeling if approved.

The two pieces of legislation were endorsed by 67 consumer, worker, religious and environmental groups, along with commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries associations, and food businesses and retailers.

Those groups include the Center for Food Safety, Ocean Conservancy, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development, the Alaska Trollers Association, Food and Water Watch, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, Trout Unlimited and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations among others.

Last fall, over 300 environmental, consumer, health, and animal welfare organizations, along with salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants signed joint letters to the FDA opposing the approval of AquaBounty’s GE salmon. Additionally nearly 400,000 public comments were sent to FDA from citizens demanding the agency reject this application and require mandatory labeling of this transgenic salmon should it decide to approve it.

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Comments on “House Vote Blocks FDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon”

  1. BAN

    I’m so glad you have blocked this from being passed. I am very apposed to GMOs in any form and would never buy this salmon. And if it is passed and the salmon is not labeled, I’ll probably never eat salmon again because supermarkets and restaurants won’t know what they are buying. If this gets passed you know there will be a whole line of GMO animal products waiting for approval to be sold to the un-aware public. Do the right thing because the world is watching.


  2. Doug Brubaker

    Thank you US House of Representatives for over riding the FDA approval of GE Salmon. You definetly did the right thing. I applaude you for putting the health of the population and the environment above corporate special interests. I am a Canadian and your action will also help to protect our West Coast as wild fish know no borders.

    Doug Brubaker
    Victoria, British Columbia

  3. KenH

    So the House put special interest politics ahead of people being supplied with food. Everyone who voted to do so should be restricted to only one meal a day.

  4. Dustin

    This is depressing. From personal experience as a plant scientist, those most strongly against GMOs have not critically evaluated the ethical implications of rejecting their potential use as KenH mentions. While food availability involves reducing transport and waste, it also involves production in a world where arable land is limited and weather patterns are changing at an unprecedented rate.

  5. Liz

    This is great news. Studies have been taking place determining that there is health concerns with these types of things. To KenH- I would gladly take 1 meal a day if it means I dont have to eat something created from a petri dish. Dustin, as a plant scientist, didnt it occur to you that there is something wrong with cross breading plants with animals? Or how about viruses and bacterias. Are you really a scientist?
    I wonder if you and KenH believed that agent orange and DDT were also the cure all as well. YOu want to solve “world hunger”. Shop local- support organic farms- and stay out of countries that do not need our help. They all were just fine without us. Just as we are just fine without GE salmon…or any others of that “non-nature”.


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