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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Will your dog's food be frankeninfished?

Is Frankenfish coming to your dog's bowl?

It could if the FDA approves what some call Frankenfish, a genetically modified salmon known as AquaAdvantage, created by AquaBounty a company based in Massachusetts, and the world's first man-made animal.

And, because few laws have been passed that require GMO labeling in the US, you may never even know that your dog's salmon based food (whether it be included in kibble, made available in the meat section at your local grocery, or in cans for raw feeding) is Frankenfish.

Just before Christmas of last year the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released its draft environmental assessment of genetically engineered (GE) salmon, concluding that it "would not have a significant impact (FONSI) on the U.S. environment."

But what about how it will affect humans and pets?

According to Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit that has opposed GE salmon through its website, the fish, "intended for human consumption, isn't being approved as a food, and that's one of the biggest problems with the (FDA's) approval process," says O'Neil.

"Instead, it's being approved as a "new animal drug. That means that a lot of the impacts won't go assessed. The new-animal-drug application process wasn't designed to assess human health, so the FDA is using the company's (AquaBounty) own two-week-long safety trial to assume that the fish is safe for human consumption," O'Neil added.

Why genetically modify salmon?

Many supporters believe that when salmon is bred to include not only genes of a variety of wild Pacific salmon, also called the Chinook salmon, with an ocean pout, a fish that resembles an eel, that it will result in a much faster growing salmon, cutting the length of time it takes to reach it's valued weight in half thus creating a cost savings for fish farmers, higher profits for the salmon industry and (promising) lower prices for consumers.

But what concerns us and others who oppose this new 'salmon,' is the affect it will not only have on human and pet health, but what affects it could have on the environment, as well. And once one man-made animal is approved it opens the door for many, many more genetically modified animals bred for human and pet consumption.

With promises of their sterile fish raised on land and in controlled pens from the marketed eggs, AquaBounty has said that AquaAdvantage poses no threat to the wild salmon population. However, recent research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the release of 60 GM salmon into a population of 60,000 wild fish would lead to the extinction of the wild fish in less than 40 generations. The big question is who will be regulating these marketed fish eggs and where the fish will be raised, as well as monitor the control of compliance by purchasers.

Big questions that need real answers before AquaAdvantage should be considered for approval. for human and pet consumption.

What You Can Do?

Have your say: From now until February 25th the FDA will be accepting public comment on its draft environmental assessment and you can provide your thoughts on by searching for docket number FDA-2011-N-0899-0002. And you may submit comments online here.

Take action: Since the direction this FDA action is taking is for approval, you can take assist in working for truth in GMO labeling causes through our friends at Just Label It. They have a wealth of information available about various laws in cities, counties and states throughout the US who are taking action on GMO labeling. And talk with your favorite dog food manufacturer; write them to voice your option about GE salmon and other GMO products and the inclusion of them in your pet's food.

Buy Organic: The only way to be certain you are not purchasing genetically modified products such as meats, vegetables and fruits is to purchase organic. Support your local organic farmer and local grocery that carries organic, tell them you want organic products and more of them, and show your support of organic through your purchasing power at the cash register.

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