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Thread: FDA Tries To Kill FOIA On Alter Of GMOs

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    FDA Tries To Kill FOIA On Alter Of GMOs

    FDA Tries To Kill FOIA On Alter Of GMOs

    FEBRUARY 8, 2018

    By Brandon Turbeville, Natural Blaze

    In a surprising turn of events, a U.S. federal court has ruled in favor of the public interest. Even more surprising, the court ruled against the FDA which has been pushing the approval of GE salmon for human consumption.

    The approval of the GE salmon, which is made from the DNA of Pacific Chinook Salmon, Atlantic Salmon and Deepwater Ocean Eel Pout, took place in 2015. However, the battle has been raging long before and after that date. The FDA, while launching a jihad against natural supplements and kratom, became the first government agency in the world to approve a GM animal for commercial sale and consumption.

    Apparently the “every possible danger must be hyped, examined and exploited for a ban” methodology only applies to harmless substances and those that improve the health and livelihoods of the average American. When it comes to those substances which could potentially harm large amounts of people, or eradicate entire species of animals, the FDA takes a hands-off approach.

    This time around, many experts have expressed concern with GE salmon, including biologists at U.S. Wildlife agencies who work with fish and wildlife, criticizing the FDA for not properly investigating the potential impacts. The FDA while jumping on the bandwagon of every distorted story in regards to kratom and natural supplements, ignored these professionals with real concerns. As a result, on March 2016, Earth Justice filed a lawsuit against the FDA. The lawsuit required the FDA to compile a record of research and documents that led up the FDA decision to approve GE salmon. The lawsuit requires a complete record.

    At the time of the writing of this article, the FDA has refused to release most of the documents related to its decision despite a number of clients requesting those documents under FOIA. As Earth Justice states,

    The public has a right to know how the agency came to this seemingly ill-informed decision, especially because the FDA’s approach will likely serve as a precedent for the assessment of future GE food animals. Withholding that information is illegal because government agencies like the FDA are funded by taxpayer dollars, which means that any records they create, with only limited exceptions, can and should be available to the public and to citizens seeking to hold the government accountable in court.

    A U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of Earth Justice in January 2017 and concluded that the U.S. Government “is wrong to assert that these types of materials…should be excluded” from the record. The FDA was then required to complete the record with the missing documents by July 2017. Several months after the U.S. District Court ruling, the FDA appealed the decision that essentially argued for the ability of government agencies to determine on their own what information it can give to courts and that they do not have to disclose internal material. If this appeal is upheld, it will set an extremely dangerous precedent for public review of government agencies, their decision-making process and their policies.

    A new hearing is set for late February 2018, and if the FDA’s position is upheld, it will be yet another nail in the coffin of democracy and transparency. The FDA remains one of the most corrupt agencies in the U.S. government and under no circumstances should the agency be able to make policy and law. If the American people do not rein in the power of the FDA they will eventually wake up in an America where all of their food is genetically modified, their medicine is toxic, and natural supplements are banned. Of course, if Americans would simply wake up, they might realize this is already their country.
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    The salmon combines salmon genes with salmon genes.

    First Genetically Engineered Salmon Sold in Canada

    US firm AquaBounty Technologies says that its transgenic fish has hit the market after a 25-year wait

    Genetically engineered salmon has reached the dinner table. AquaBounty Technologies, the company in Maynard, Massachusetts, that developed the fish, announced on August 4 that it has sold some 4.5 tons of its hotly debated product to customers in Canada.

    The sale marks the first time that a genetically engineered animal has been sold for food on the open market. It took AquaBounty more than 25 years to get to this point.

    The fish, a variety of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), is engineered to grow faster than its non-genetically modified counterpart, reaching market size in roughly half the time — about 18 months. AquaBounty sold its first commercial batch at market price: US$5.30 per pound ($11.70 per kilogram), says Ron Stotish, the company’s chief executive. He would not disclose who bought it.

    AquaBounty raised the fish in tanks in a small facility in Panama. It plans to ramp up production by expanding a site on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, where local authorities gave the green light for construction in June. In the same month, the company also acquired a fish farm in Albany, Indiana; it awaits the nod from US regulators to begin production there.

    The sale of the fish follows a long, hard-fought battle to navigate regulatory systems and win consumer acceptance. “Somebody’s got to be first and I’m glad it was them and not me,” says James West, a geneticist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who co-founded AgGenetics, a start-up company in Nashville that is engineering cattle for the dairy and beef industries. “If they had failed, it might have killed the engineered livestock industry for a generation,” he says.

    AquaBounty’s gruelling path from scientific discovery to market terrified others working in animal biotechnology, and almost put the company out of business on several occasions. Scientists first demonstrated the fast-growing fish in 1989. They gave it a growth-hormone gene from Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), along with genetic regulatory elements from a third species, the ocean pout (Zoarces americanus). The genetic modifications enable the salmon to produce a continuous low level of growth hormone.

    AquaBounty formed around the technology in the early 1990s and approached regulators in the United States soon after. It then spent almost 25 years in regulatory limbo. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the salmon for consumption in November 2015, and Canadian authorities came to the same decision six months later. Neither country requires the salmon to be labelled as genetically engineered.

    But unlike in Canada, political battles in the United States have stalled the salmon’s entry into the marketplace. The law setting out the US government’s budget for fiscal year 2017 includes a provision that instructs the FDA to forbid the sale of transgenic salmon until it has developed a programme to inform consumers that they are buying a genetically engineered product. Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican, Alaska), who inserted the provision, has called AquaBounty’s salmon “fake fish”.

    Activists in both the United States and Canada have demanded that regulators reconsider their decisions, and some have filed lawsuits. The Center for Food Safety, an environmental-advocacy group in Washington DC, sued the FDA last year in an attempt to overturn its salmon decision. The group says the agency lacks the legal authority to oversee genetically engineered animals, and that it made its decision without fully considering the environmental risks.

    The announcement that AquaBounty’s fish are landing on Canadian tables is sure to dredge up opposition, says Stotish. He argues that the genetically engineered fish are good for the economy — attractive because they can be grown near metropolitan areas rather than being flown in from overseas, bringing salmon-farming jobs back to the United States and Canada. And because the AquaBounty salmon are grown in tanks, he adds, they don’t encounter many of the pathogens and parasites that often afflict salmon raised in sea cages.

    “I think the larger market is viewing it as a more predictable, sustainable source of salmon," Stotish says. “As a first sale this was very positive and encouraging for us.”
    To avoid any concerns about cross breeding with other salmon, the FDA currently requires them to raise the fish on land in contained tanks.
    Last edited by Zippyjuan; 02-11-2018 at 04:59 PM.

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