Target: Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Goal: To stop the FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon.
The Food and Drug Administration has recently stated that genetically modified salmon is an unlikely environmental threat and is one step closer to the first approval of a genetically engineered animal. The salmon, engineered by a company called AquaBounty, are designed to reach a larger size at a faster rate, thereby increasing profits in a shorter time frame. But while AquaBounty is concerned with its profit margins, consumers may be unaware they are consuming genetically modified fish, and the environment could suffer irreparable damage.
According to current federal guidelines, a genetically modified organism (GMO) is not required to be labeled. This means that a consumer who is morally opposed to genetic modification or concerned about the unknown health risks related to GMOs will not be able to choose between non-GMO salmon and the ‘frankenfish’ from AquaBounty. In addition, there may also be unforeseen environmental problems associated with genetically modified animals, as there have already been some issues with genetically modified crops in the past. If genetically engineered salmon were to escape or be released into the wild, crossbreeding could occur, certain species could be wiped out, and overpopulation may become a serious issue.
Besides the human health and environmental concerns, legal issues may also become a real possibility. Agribusiness companies who practice genetic modification generally patent the genes they have engineered. Because genes exist in living organisms, it can make patent enforcement difficult. If the genetically engineered salmon were to breed the wild salmon population, fishermen who earn a living through wild-caught salmon could incur legal troubles if a patented gene was detected in their product.
Since declaring the genetically modified salmon nonthreatening, the FDA will allow sixty days to hear comments from the public before making its approval final. If the decision is officially approved, it could set a precedent for allowing genetic engineering of other species. Now is the time to take a stand; sign the petition below to tell the FDA you demand protection from the real and possible dangers of genetically modified animals in our food supply.
Dear Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the FDA,
Your recent statement on the unlikely threat of genetically modified salmon does not take into account the concerns of American consumers. Time and time again, we have seen the troublesome effects of genetically engineered crops in the forms of lawsuits, environmental damage, and animal and human health concerns. These negative effects could be even more dangerous if the genetic modification of animals is approved, leading to crossbreeding, species extinction, and overpopulation.
Not only are GMOs a possible danger to the environment, but we have yet to see their long-term effects on human health. Furthermore, the fact that it is not required to label such products as genetically modified is worrisome, akin to a lie of omission. GMOs help no one but the corporations who own the genes. Why take a gamble on the health of people, animals, and the environment just so a company can make more money more quickly?
As a federal agency, it is your duty to protect citizens, not serve corporations. Yet again you have failed to carry out this important responsibility. We are holding you accountable for this decision, and we demand you do not officially approve genetically engineered salmon.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: The Wild Fish Coalition