Don’t fear the Frankenfish…



“On Thursday, for the first time, the Food and Drug Administration approved a genetically engineered animal for human consumption. It’s a salmon that grows much faster than other salmon, thanks to an inserted gene.

Some environmentalists are assailing the decision. They call the salmon ‘Frankenfish.’ Their objections sound a lot like previous allegations against genetically engineered crops. The allegations against GE crops didn’t stand up, as a Slate investigation showed, and it doesn’t look as though the arguments against GE salmon will stand up, either. Let’s examine them.

One complaint against the salmon is that it endangers consumers’ ‘personal health,’ that it ‘could cause human allergies,’ and that it’s been approved based on ‘insufficient safety testing.’ In the case of GE plants, these scary what-if arguments are unfalsifiable, based on speculation about chemical properties and ever-expanding demands for longer study periods and bigger samples. The GE salmon was initially submitted for FDA approval 20 years ago. The agency declared it safe in 2010 and then spent another five years reviewing objections. Thursday’s statement says the FDA has concluded that the salmon is ‘safe to eat’ and is ‘as nutritious as food from other non-GE Atlantic salmon.’ It also says the genetic change is ‘safe for the fish itself.'”

-By William Saletan, Science

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