Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Coalition calls for FDA to halt approval of genetically engineered salmon
Center for Food Safety
December 20, 2011
Discovery of undisclosed infection of salmon eggs calls into question company claims that GE salmon are safe for the environment
Yesterday afternoon a coalition of 11 food safety, environmental, consumer and fisheries organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) calling for a halt to its approval of a genetically engineered (GE) salmon after learning that the company’s – AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. – research site was contaminated with a new strain of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), the deadly fish flu that is devastating fish stocks around the world.
“This new information calls into question the reliability of AquaBounty’s data and the validity of its claims that their fish are safe for the environment” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. “The FDA must respond appropriately and conduct their own environmental impact statement that looks at a broad range of environmental risks from these genetically engineered salmon, including the risk of spreading diseases such as ISA and antibiotic use for other diseases.”
AquaBounty has claimed that the company’s process for raising GE fish is safer than traditional aquaculture. However, documents that were revealed last week indicate that their production site was found by Canadian Authorities to have been contaminated in Nov. 2009. This information was hidden from the public and potentially FDA and other Federal agencies consulting on the GE salmon application. ISA is a deadly disease and is classified as a ‘Listed’ disease by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) – alongside diseases such as Anthrax, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Foot and mouth disease, rabies, sheep pox, swine fever, avian influenza, West Nile fever, scrapie, fowl cholera, bovine tuberculosis and myxomatosis.
“Infectious Salmon Anaemia threatens wild fisheries around the world and the communities whose livelihood depend on those fish” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth US. “ISA infections in Chile cost the industry around two billion dollars. A similar infection in Canada and the U.S. could be the last blow to wild Atlantic salmon populations and bring a collapse in wild salmon fisheries.”
The December 19 letter urged FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to release all health data on AquaBounty’s GE salmon and to suspend any approval actions until all the data is disclosed and the public has an opportunity to review the data. Additionally, the coalition asked the FDA to conduct a full environmental impact statement that includes review of the effect of fish diseases, like ISA, on wild fish populations that might come into contact with the AquaBounty fish. Currently, the FDA has only performed a less comprehensive environmental risk assessment.
This news comes on the heels of a Senate subcommittee hearing held last Thursday on the environmental risks of GE fish, the first hearing of its kind in Congress.
Boulder County agrees to allow some GMOs on public land
By Laura Snider
Boulder Daily Camera
December 20, 2011
The Boulder County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to allow some genetically modified organisms to be grown on county-owned open space land.
All three commissioners agreed that farmers should be allowed to continue to plant corn that has been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate or to resist insects. Planting GMO corn was first approved in Boulder County in 2003.
And the commissioners supported the planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets, which also have been modified to resist glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup. But the commissioners said they would be reticent to approve any additional glyphosate-resistant crops that may be developed in the future.
The commissioners said they would consider GMO crops with other traits — such as drought resistance — in the future as they are developed.
“I don’t believe we should ban GMOs, but I do think we need to be very careful and limited in allowing them,” Commissioner Will Toor told the packed hearing room.
Tuesday’s vote ends a contentious public process that has dragged on for nearly three years.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Complaints against Bt cotton grow
By Suhail Yusuf
December 19, 2011
TOBA TEK SINGH - Farmers have complained that cottonseed cakes available in the market are harming their cattle as their animals are suffering from diseases, specially lack of appetite, and decline in milk production, premature deliveries and sudden deaths due to unknown cause.
A progressive farmer, Arshad Warraich, of Chak 328-JB said the taste of milk, yogurt, lassi, butter and desi ghee had also been affected as a result and the bitterness was found in them.
Agriculture department deputy district officer Khalid Mahmood said that nearly 90 per cent of the cotton sown in the district was of BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) type and cotton ginning factories supplied most of cottonseed cakes produced from its seed (banola).
He claimed that farmers had left old types of cotton varieties and turned to the most profit-earning crop.
Earlier, the per acre yield of cotton crop was 30 to 40 maund and with the use of BT cotton the per acre yield has increased between 50 and 60 maund.
Cottonseed cake sellers said that farmers lodged complaints with them that their animals were facing varied types of diseases due to cottonseed cakes.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Feds’ GM food proposal compromises food safety, say groups
By Omid Ghoreishi
December 18, 2011
A federal government proposal that would allow low levels of contamination from genetically modified foods from other countries is raising concerns among activist groups.
The proposed policy on “low level presence” (LLP) relates to the unintended presence in low amounts of unapproved genetically modified (GM) material in imported food.
“We think that’s a huge concern from a health safety standpoint. There is no justification for this policy from a public health point of view,” says Lucy Sharrat, coordinator of Ottawa-based Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), which is taking part in a government stakeholder consultation on the policy.
“The government is very clear that this is trade policy, and our position is that this is clearly trade policy that sacrifices food safety,” she says.
The proposal stems from an industry concern that the inevitable presence of traces of GM in imported food that has been approved in one country but not in the country of import could disrupt international trade.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Modified plants found outside laboratories
December 16, 2011
Spot checks conducted in 2011 found “isolated examples” of genetically modified plants near research laboratories and a station in different places in Switzerland.
The Federal Environment Office said on Friday that the plants had been dug up immediately, and there had been no contamination.
The plants found near laboratories belonging to the universities of Lausanne, Basel and Zurich were thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), which is often used in studying plant biology, since any changes in it are easily observed.
The universities were informed and asked to discover how the plants got out.
Genetically modified rape was found at the station in Lugano. The canton was asked to discover where it came from.
A statement by the environment office said the discoveries were “no great surprise”.
“Laboratories and communications routes are possible ways in which genetically modified plants are spread,” it pointed out.
They were detected by a monitoring system set up by the office to discover any early release of such plants into the environment. The system is being introduced ahead of the planned lifting of a moratorium on growing genetically modified crops in November 2013.