Two days of public hearings got underway in Washington Monday to analyze a U.S. company’s proposal to create genetically engineered salmon — the so-called Frankenfish.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is hearing arguments Monday on whether to approve the marketing of the fish, which would be the first of its kind bred for human consumption.
Consumer and environmental groups from Canada and the U.S. have rallied against the proposal by Aqua Bounty, worried a favourable ruling would open the floodgates to the genetic modification of many food products destined for dinner tables.
The company — which intends to make a similar request in Canada — argues that its product will reduce pressure on wild salmon stocks.
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On Monday, the FDA — which has already said the salmon is health to eat — will present information on “animal health, food safety, environmental concerns, and data supporting the claim that AquAdvantage Salmon grow faster than conventionally bred Atlantic salmon,” according to the FDA’s website.
On Tuesday, the FDA hearings will examine the food labelling issues surrounding the potential approval of a genetically-modified animal.
Over the course of the hearings the FDA will be considering whether the government should allow the salmon to be sold, rather than whether the fish is safe to eat, which it has already indicated it is.
Aqua Bounty, which has a large production facility in Bay Fortune, P.E.I., has faced challenges from opponents who say there are “gaps in the science” around whether the fish is safe to eat.
“We’re really concerned that the U.S. government is not seriously looking at the health risks of eating (genetically engineered) fish,” Mary Boyd of the PEI Health Coalition said in a statement last week.