A coalition of fishing, consumer and environmental groups is challenging the federal government over its decision to approve a genetically engineered salmon for commercial sale and consumption.
The US Food and Drug Administration, which approved the sale of genetically modified salmon, has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed on March 31 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Attorneys with the Center For Food Safety, Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit on behalf of the coalition over concerns about the salmon created by AquaBounty Technologies Inc. with DNA from Atlantic salmon, Pacific king salmon and Arctic Ocean eelpout. George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center For Food Safety, in Portland, Oregon, estimated that the matter would probably take a couple of years at the least to resolve.
AquaBounty plans to produce the GE salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and grow them to market size in facilities in Panama, then fillet them and ship them to the US for sale, but ultimately grow their product in the US and sell into global markets. The coalition’s lawsuit challenges FDA’s claim that it has authority to approve and regulate genetically engineered animals as “animal drugs” under the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. That law was meant to ensure the safety of veterinary drugs administered to treat disease in livestock and not intended to address GE animals that could potentially pass along their altered genes to the next generation, the coalition said.
“Win, lose or draw, it is important that fishermen know how to deal with it; to have a plan for dealing with it,” says Gabriel Scott, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands’ field office in Alaska. Gabriel said he filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FDA several years ago seeking the backup studies related to the environmental assessment that AquaBounty produced in pursuit of getting FDA approval. He said he is still waiting for FDA to produce that information.