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The United States Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday that they would extend the public comment period for the AquaAdvantage Salmon application a further 60 days after receiving an inordinate amount of comments as the comment period was on its last days before closure.
The FDA reports at 30,000 comments have been received by the agency since they had announced that they had found that the altered Atlantic Salmon hybrid affectionately called the “Frankenfish” posed no significant environmental impact.
Spokesperson for the FDA, Morgan Liscinsky said that the “FDA will complete the review of the AquAdvantage Salmon application and will reach a decision on approval.” Liscinsky continued, “At this point it is not possible to predict a timeline for when these decisions will be made.”
The extension was welcomed by Alaska’s senior senator, Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski is a full on opponent of the genetically modified salmon and has been calling for more time to challenge the FDA’s decision to move forward with approval.
Senator Murkowski said in a press release today after the FDA’s decision to extend the comment period, “The Friday before Christmas, the Food and Drug Administration announced they were moving forward with the approval process on Frankenfish by opening the comment period – this at a time when everyone understandably has their mind on the holidays and the Congress is in a transition period,” said Murkowski. “Despite those hurdles, I am proud that my Coastal Coalition in the Senate and those fighting along with us – like the Alaskans in Sitka last weekend – have raised our voices and outrage to a level where the FDA relented and is giving us more time to further lay out the case against GE salmon.”
Last week, Senator Murkowski co-sponsored two bills with her Coastal Coalition colleague Senator Mark Begich. One would make it illegal to sell, possess, transport or purchase GE salmon in the United States unless and until the NOAA approval process makes absolutely sure there is no harmful impact on the environment. The other bill defies the FDA’s stance against clearly labeling Frankenfish, requiring that GE salmon be clearly labeled and identified so that consumers can have full faith in natural salmon and know the difference on grocery shelves so they can be sure they are purchasing the real thing.
Senator Begich released a statement today as well concerning the FDA and their extension, “I’m pleased the FDA heard our message loud and clear because Alaskans need this time to speak out against fake fish – both in our waters and on our dinner plates,” said Begich. “Allowing questionable science to ultimately influence our food supply is a slippery slope that Alaskans don’t want to go down. I hope Alaskans take the time to submit their comment to the FDA and let them know we won’t tolerate science projects messing with our wild salmon supply.”
Alaska’s lone Representative to Washington, Representative Don Young, last week introduced H.R. 584 to the House. That legislations requires that all genetically engineered fish sold for consumption be labeled as such.
In a statement, Representative Young said, “I have once again introduced legislation that will force the FDA to let Americans know exactly what type of salmon they are eating. This common sense bill will require clear labeling of food containing genetically engineered fish,” Rep. Young continued, “For the record, I believe that the FDA’s review of GE salmon as if it were an animal drug is dead wrong. This approach lacks the fundamental independent scientific review that the American people deserve before this experiment is permitted in our food supply or near our wild salmon populations.”
“A majority of American consumers want GE food labeled. This fact comes as no surprise considering data submitted to the FDA show that GE salmon contain 39% higher levels of a hormone linked to cancer, and exhibit 58% higher total fat than natural salmon,” Rep. Young concluded.
Yesterday, Alaska’s House Fisheries Committee approved House Joint Resolution 5. The resolution opposed the FDA’s approval of the sale of genetically modified salmon in the United States.