GMO fish in Panama
December 30, 2012 in World News
The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to approve the raising of genetically modified salmon in Panama.
The fish, named AquAdvantage Salmon, is a construct designed by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. and was first generated in 1989.
The eggs are scheduled to be produced in a facility on Prince Edward Island, Canada, then transported to a growing facility in Panama.
There are no proposed facilities within the United States for the production of this fish and AquaBounty has stated that environmental considerations fall mostly within the sovereign authority of Canada and Panama. In a report by the FDA, social, economic, cultural and environmental effects on the United States have not been evaluated because of this.
The FDA also states in the report there is minimal risk to significant effects on the quality of human environment in the United States. The FDA previously stated that no evaluation was done because production is planned outside its borders.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have provided a “no effect” determination adverse effects on the endangered species of Atlantic Salmon that the construct is closely related to. Again, no studies have been done because production is not going to occur within the United States.
It seems the main factor to mitigate the risk of the constructed fish to proliferate in the wild it to make them triploid. Triploid means the fish has an extra chromosome. A normal male has an X and a Y chromosome. Females have XX. The eggs of the AquVantage Salmon are to be treated so they will be females with an extra chromosome, making them effectively infertile. There is a process gaining popularity that involves pressure treating eggs of natural fish to make them triploid. The fish from these eggs tend to grow larger because they do not need to expend energy on reproduction.
Standish K. Allen Jr. and Ximing Guo of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences state that inducing triploidity does not work 100% of the time. That is the process to add the extra chromosome to an egg to make it infertile does not always work. Once production begins, there will be some of the constructed fish that will be able to reproduce.
In their research, Allen and Guo determined that disease caused about 15-20% of the shellfish they studied to revert to having the normal two chromosomes in some cells.
Panama is the home to the man-made canal in Central America that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is a narrow isthmus surrounded by the Pacific and Caribbean. The canal connects these two bodies of water through a series of man-made locks. At its widest, the country is 400 miles and most narrow is 30 miles from sea to sea.
Given that about 15% of the GMO AquAdvantage Salmon will be able to reproduce, no regulation by the United States to contain them, and the fact they will be produced in a country with such easy access to the oceans, it is only a matter of time until the population will begin to grow in the wild.
More information and reports can be found at fda.gov.
The FDA has given a narrow window of opportunity to give redress and express concerns about this matter. They are accepting public comments until 25 February 2013. Electronic comments can be submitted to www.regulations.gov. Written comments can be mailed to:
Division of Dockets Managment (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
7500 Standish Pl.
Rockville, MD 20855
Phone number: 240-276-8247