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Consumer advocacy groups are taking the FDA to court over genetically modified salmon

The FDA is currently being sued by a coalition group made up of environmental, consumer and commercial organizations for approving the farming of genetically engineered (GE) salmon, according to The Hill. The coalition is being represented by a legal counsel from the Center for Food Safety and Earth Justice – who are challenging the FDA's authority to approve and regulate GE animals.

In November 2015 the FDA approved AquaBounty Technologies' "AquAdvantage salmon" as being safe for human consumption – allowing the farming of salmon that have been genetically engineered to grow faster in land-based, hatchery tanks in two specific facilities – one in Canada and one in Panama.

The FDA believes that under the 1938 federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it has the authority to regulate GE animals under the provision of "animal drugs." However, the organizations that are being represented, including the Ecology Action Centre and Friends of the Earth, argue that the FDA do not actually have this authority because GE animals are not "animal drugs." They believe that this provision only gives the FDA authority to ensure the safety of veterinary drugs used to treat livestock – and not to regulate GE animals.

Potential problems with GE fish

The coalition that is suing the FDA believe that if GE animals escape from where they are farmed, or are accidentally released, they can then interbreed with non-GE animals and pass along their altered genes to other generations. This would in turn threaten wild populations, with the new GE population competing with the wild populations for food and habitat – eventually causing the wild population to die out.

In the case of the GE salmon that have recently been approved, the FDA have said that the fish are reproductively sterile – and yet for some reason the tanks that they are being raised in are required to have barriers to prevent their eggs from escaping... so the FDA can't be certain that the fish won't interbreed with wild salmon. If these GE salmon – which grow faster than wild salmon – do escape into the wild then they will have the competitive edge on wild salmon, making them a very serious risk to wild salmon populations.

According to George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center of Food Safety, "This case is about protecting our fisheries and ocean ecosystems from the foreseeable harms of the first-ever GE fish, harms FDA refused to even consider, let alone prevent. But it's also about the future of our food: FDA should not, and cannot, responsibly regulate this GE animal, nor any future GE animals, by treating them as drugs under a 1938 law."

The FDA have also been criticized for not requiring appropriate product labeling, which has forced Congress to call for mandatory labeling of GE foods in the 2016 spending bill, as reported by The Hill.

Should we trust the FDA?

The FDA has been around for over 110 years and it regulates everything from food and tobacco to health supplements and drugs – working closely with Big Pharma. According to the FDA's job description, they regulate everything from cell phones to condoms – this means that they regulate over one trillion dollars' worth of consumer goods, according to TruthWiki.

But this isn't the first time that the FDA has come under scrutiny – in 2010 the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The reaction of the FDA to the lawsuit brought to light the fact that the FDA believes that nobody should have the right to choose what to eat or drink – meaning that the US population should only be allowed to consume what the FDA decides.

According to Natural News, the FDA made the following statement regarding the raw milk controversy, "Plaintiff's assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish."

With this in mind, do we really want the FDA to be making decisions about the safety of GE foods on behalf of the American people – just because of a law that dates back to 1938?

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