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Growth-Enhanced Salmon Offer Nutritional and Environmental Benefits for Consumers

Statement by Dr. Michael J. Phillips, Executive Director for Food and Agriculture

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 9, 2001) – “The development of a faster-growing salmon is an important advancement for modern aquaculture. By reaching maturity earlier, food producers can harvest more salmon and offer consumers worldwide a more economical, and healthful source of protein. In addition, a more bountiful fish crop grown in a contained environment reduces the strain on the environment and helps to protect popular fish from over fishing. A moratorium on transgenic fish will delay attainment of these significant benefits. Currently, Aqua Bounty’s salmon is undergoing stringent review at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has oversight for transgenic animals, including fish.

“The FDA’s regulatory requirements for transgenic fish are higher than those for existing foods, requiring the product sponsor to prove efficacy claims as well as meet three areas of safety standards: (1) human food safety; (2) animal welfare (does the fish swim, eat and live normally); and (3) environmental safety.

“Last year growth-enhanced salmon were the subject of a case study conducted by the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (http://www.ostp.gov/html/012201.html) to assess federal environmental regulations pertaining to agricultural biotechnology. This 47-page report carefully illustrated the types of environmental safety considerations that would consitute a government evaluation for approval of a transgenic Atlantic salmon, and the government agencies and authorities involved. The report stated that through the coordinated regulatory framework for bioechnology, no less than five federal agencies would be involved in the approval of growth-enhanced salmon. These agencies include the FDA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Fish and Wildife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents more than 950 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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