Published on January 14th, 2013 | by admin1
AquAdvantage Salmon: A Heckuva Drug
By Ari LeVaux on
If the announcement’s timing suggests FDA wants the application to flow smoothly, also consider that it has been 17 years since AquaBounty first applied for permission to sell its recombinant Atlantic salmon in the U.S. The company has paid a heavy price for trying to be first.
The slow and meandering path of the fish’s approval process owes more to agency machinations than any prevailing ideology. Four years is just enough time to settle into a new course before a new administration takes over and replaces your boss and, possibly, your agenda.
During the Bush II, FDA announced it would regulate AquAdvantage salmon as an animal drug rather than food, perhaps in hopes of expediting the process. More recently, according to a hypothesis espoused by Jon Entine in Slate, officials in President Obama’s inner circle conspired to delay the salmon’s approval for political gain.
Dartmouth sustainability science professor Anne Kapuscinski addressed the VMAC as well. Like the rest of the public, Kapuscinski had barely two weeks to review the hundreds of pages of documents that were released Friday before Labor Day.
Dr. Kapuscinski recently led a team of 53 scientists in writing a book about how to conduct scientifically credible risk assessment of genetically modified fish, and her lab has done ecological-risk research with GM fish. Kapuscinski was one of the most qualified people in the room, VMAC members included, to comment on the ecological risks posed by AquAdvantage salmon. Her oral comments were cut short due to time; she submitted a written transcript of those comments that I was not able to find on theonline VMAC materials hub.
A transcript of those her oral comments that Kapuscinski forwarded to me stated: “The Environmental Assessment does not adequately consider the growing body of research on genetic and ecological risks of transgenic fish.”
The EA, she wrote, lacked the basic quantitative information necessary to verify its conclusions. The statistical methods were outdated, and sample sizes too small or not reported. Kapuscinski called for “a transparent Environmental Impact Statement that completes genetic and ecological risk assessment.”…