Court says "NO" to genetically engineered salmon.
There is no better time to say NO.
SAY 'NO' to ALL GMOs!
On November 24th 2020, The US district Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, had violated core environmental laws in approving the genetically engineered salmon — the first GM animal set to be released in nature.
What do we know so far about GM animals?
GM Mosquitoes have already been approved and released in many parts of the globe,(1) so the female mosquito generates born-dead offspring. Another way GM mosquitoes were designed is to breed with wild mosquitoes, passing on a faulty gene (that will be activated and will compete with healthy genes), that will be carried by offspring and, the result is, dead larvae. One other way is to inject a mosquito with a homing gene. The gene locks onto a the X chromosome and is shredded, becoming a Y chromosome, which means that all generations of offspring will only be male.
Nearly all experiments with GM crops have resulted in harmful unintended consequences, and now we expect GM mosquitoes, that 'love' to bite humans, to have absolutely no consequences to human health.
This is what Oxitec scientist Kevin Gorman had to say:
“It’s gone extremely well... We have released over a billion of our mosquitoes over the years. There is no potential for risk to the environment or humans.”
While it may be true, we (as consumers and human beings) have been lied to so many times that we are never able to know the actual truth.
The issues with GM salmon are more concerning than a few billions of mosquitoes. That is because we don't eat mosquitoes. GM salmon was supposed to end on our plates very soon!
The court also ruled that the FDA willingly ignored the deleterious environmental consequences of approving GM salmon and the full extent of plans to grow and commercialise this type of salmon around the world, violating the National Environmental Policy Act.
One of the main concern is the thousands and thousands of farmed fish that are able to escape into the wild, passing on their diseases (because they are grown in overcrowded nets, and fed a diet that no wild fish would ever consume, including the overuse of antibiotics, a concerning fact that keeps on increasing the risk of multi-drug resistant bacteria, aka superbugs). Farmed fish is also notorious to harbour lice, which they can release into the wild as they escape and contaminate wild fish.
When GM salmon escape or are accidentally released into the environment, the new species are most likely to threaten wild populations by mating with endangered salmon species, outcompeting them for scarce resources and habitat, as well as introducing new diseases and bugs.
Concerns were raised, but these were categorically ignored by the FDA in the final approval. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised that extreme lobbying had a lot to do with it. In fact, the world's preeminent experts, as well as biologists from various wildlife agencies charged with protecting fish and wildlife, heavily criticised the FDA's approval for failing to evaluate the impacts of GM salmon on native, endangered salmon populations. At the end the FDA thought it could get away with it and ignore the weight this experts represented. In fact, the lawsuit also highlights the FDA's failure to protect the environment and consult wildlife agencies in its review process, as required by federal law.
AquaBounty’s GM salmon is engineered to grow faster, using a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout. If GM salmon were to escape or are accidentally released into the environment, the new species could threaten wild populations by mating with endangered salmon species, outcompeting them for scarce resources and habitat, and/or introducing new diseases.
The problem is the so-called "Frankenfish" is the "transgenic contamination" — where genetically engineered crops cross-pollinate or establish themselves in nearby fields or the wild — has become extremely common, costing billions to farmers over the past decade. The issue with GM crops (aka pesticide-ready crops), are drenched with pesticides like RoundUp (glyphosate) and especially Dicamba, an extremely volatile pesticides that has been found to pollute many areas downstream, lakes and rivers. Dicamba use is also expected to dramatically increase due to the high recurrence of glyphosate-resistant weed (nature always finds a way to bring balance and yet, humans just want to destroy our ecosystem for the sake of money, nothing else, not world hunger, and certainly not our health).
One other fact the court pointed out is the FDA's unilateral decision that GM salmon could not have any effect on highly-endangered wild salmon was wrong and asked the FDA to thoroughly investigate the environmental consequences of an escape of GM salmon into the wild.
George Kimbrell, CFS legal director and counsel in the case said:
"Today's decision is a vital victory for endangered salmon and our oceans... Genetically engineered animals create novel risks and regulators must rigorously analyze them using sound science, not stick their head in the sand as officials did here. In reality, this engineered fish offers nothing but unstudied risks. The absolute last thing our planet needs right now is another human-created crisis like escaped genetically engineered fish running amok."
The Center for Food Safety exposed that "In 2016, [they] and Earthjustice — representing a broad client coalition of environmental, consumer, commercial and recreational fishing organisations and the Quinault Indian Nation — sued the FDA for approving the first-ever commercial genetically engineered animal, an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow twice as fast as its wild counterpart. The genetically engineered salmon was produced by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. with DNA from Atlantic salmon, Pacific king salmon, and Arctic ocean eelpout. This marks the first time any government in the world has approved a commercially genetically engineered animal as food."
Earthjustice managing attorney Steve Mashuda told:
"This decision underscores what scientists have been telling FDA for years—that creating genetically engineered salmon poses an unacceptable risk if the fish escape and interact with our wild salmon and that FDA must understand that risk to prevent harm... Our efforts should be focused on saving the wild salmon populations we already have—not manufacturing new species that pose yet another threat to their survival."
Why the court made a precedent despite the FDA's argument that it lacked authority (what else?), is because Atlantic salmon, and many populations of Pacific salmon, are actually protected by the Endangered Species Act and in danger of extinction. Salmon species have sustained people and wildlife for thousands of years and it is unacceptable that the aberration that GM salmon represents would be innocent and of no consequence on wildlife (wild fish and the animals that feed not hem) and human health.
Fawn Sharp, Quilnault Indian Nation President said:
"Salmon are at the center of our cultural and spiritual identity, diet, and way of life. It's unconscionable and arrogant to think man can improve upon our Creator's perfection as a justification for corporate ambition and greed... Our responsibility as stewards of our sacred salmon demands we aggressively protect their natural habitat and genetics. We applaud today's court decision; our prayers were answered and justice prevailed."
Mike Conroy, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association (PCFFA) adds:
"It's a terrible idea to design genetically engineered 'Frankenfish' which, when they escape into the wild (as they inevitably will), could destroy our irreplaceable salmon runs... Once engineered genes are introduced into the wild salmon gene pool, it cannot be undone. This decision is a major victory for wild salmon, salmon fishing families and dependent communities, and salmon conservation efforts everywhere."
Dana Perls, Food and Technology program manager at Friends of the Earth echoes:
"Genetically engineered salmon place wild salmon at risk and set a dangerous precedent for other genetically engineered animals, like cows and chickens designed to fit into factory farms, to enter the food system. We applaud the court for this carefully-reasoned decision... All products made with genetic engineering, especially live animals like genetically engineered salmon, should undergo thorough and precautionary assessment for impacts to our health and environment, be properly regulated and clearly labeled before entering the market."
President of Golden State Salmon Association, John McManus, gives the final word:
"Salmon fishermen and women don't want to see these lab-made salmon in our waters nor in any market or restaurant where salmon is sold... The federal Food and Drug Administration clearly let America down when it chose to overlook the environmental risk these fish pose."
Represented by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, plaintiffs in the case include Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Ecology Action Centre, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Golden Gate Salmon Association, and the Quinault Indian Nation.
Genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) create novel risks to the environment, biodiversity and local communities that requires rigorous analysis by every governmental agency int he world using sound science that includes long-term assessments for safety.
As is the case with the GM salmon, “the Court ruled that the FDA failed to consider and study the environmental risks of this novel GE [genetically engineered] fish.” Now more than ever, our planet faces increasing environmental threats that will only be exacerbated by replacing wild ecosystems with genetically engineered salmon, mosquitoes, trees or any other organism being engineered as a false solution to climate change, forest restoration, resource management, etc. It’s time that we take a look at whether or not our regulatory agencies are equipped to adequately assess genetically engineered organisms.
A petition is also underway in Canada.(3)
Would you buy GM salmon if it was sold at a cheaper price in your usual supermarket?
Would you buy GMOs and processed foodstuff containing GMOs were sold in your usual store?
Boycotting products is the best weapon against capitalism-led conglomerates and national agencies that could not care less about our health. 2020 is the actual proof!!!
References and Sources
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