Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners is urging federal regulators to block approval for a new genetically-modified salmon.

On Wednesday the board unanimously approved a resolution asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reject an application from the Massachusetts-based company AquaBounty Technologies for its genetically-engineered AquAdvantage salmon.

On Dec. 21 the FDA released an environmental assessment that deemed the new salmon safe for the environment. A 60-day comment period follows before the agency issues a final ruling.

The AquAdvantage salmon, created for "fish-farm" aquaculture operations, was developed from an Atlantic salmon to which growth hormones from two other species – the Pacific Chinook salmon and the ocean pout – were added. The altered DNA allows the fish to grow at twice the rate of natural salmon.

The AquAdvantage would be the first genetically-altered animal approved for human consumption. Opponents argue the altered fish could threaten wild salmon through interbreeding and competition for food and habitat.

The company states that only sterile, female examples of the fish will be bred, and raised exclusively in land-based facilities. The county resolution says that approval of the AquAdvantage salmon could eventually result in genetically-modified salmon being allowed in ocean-based fish farms, where escape and disease are common. It also notes that the FDA would likely require no labeling identifying the product as genetically altered, which could lead consumers leery of modified foods to avoid all salmon.

To comment on the FDA review, go to www.regulations.gov and search Docket # FDA-2011-N-0899.

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