Biotechnology advocates have slammed the Food and Drug Administration's decision to extend the
comment period on a genetically modified salmon proposal by another two months.
The comment period on AquaBounty Technologies' application to farm salmon genetically altered to grow
faster was set to close Feb. 25, but it has been extended until April 26.
A coalition of senators -- mostly from states with salmon fisheries -- requested the extension, concerned
60 days was not enough time to respond.
"While the AquaBounty Technologies proposal has been under consideration for some 15 years, the
surprise publication of the draft [environmental assessment] and [finding of no significant impact] on
Dec. 26, 2012, came in the midst of the holiday season when the public was more concerned with family
matters than reviewing a 144-page, highly-technical scientific document," states the letter from Sens.
Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty
Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
The move was criticized by the Biotechnology Industry Organization as a "delay in what has been an
unreasonably long regulatory process hindered by those who refuse to stand behind science."
"Today's decision by the FDA represents another blow against science and another setback for a small
American technology company that is working to protect our environment, promote sustainable
production practices and provide healthy food to Americans," Jim Greenwood, the organization's
president and CEO, said in a statement.
Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies is a member of the organization.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization urged FDA to move toward a final decision in a letter signed by
28 animal and agriculture organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"Extending the comment period does not make sense since all relevant data pertaining to the application
has been in the public realm for more than two years," says the letter, which was sent last week.