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02.02.2018 |

Judges to FDA: Government Must Pull Aside Curtain on Genetically Engineered Salmon

Appeals court rejects Trump administration’s attempt to withhold information from the public related to the approval of GE salmon.

Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the FDA’s latest attempt to hide thousands of pages of key government documents related to the agency’s first-ever approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon for human consumption. The court’s decision is a big win for public transparency and a firm rejection of the Trump administration’s position that it can unilaterally decide whether to withhold government documents from public and court review.

In 2015, the FDA approved a GE salmon made from the DNA of three different animals: Atlantic salmon, deep water ocean eelpout, and Pacific Chinook salmon. The GE version is intended to grow faster than conventional farmed salmon, reportedly getting to commercial size in half the time.

Even though this is the first time any government in the world has approved a GE animal for commercial sale and consumption, so far the FDA has taken a lackadaisical approach to evaluating the salmon’s potential for harm to wild salmon and the environment. If the GE salmon were to escape, it could threaten wild salmon populations by outcompeting them for scarce resources and habitat, by mating with endangered salmon species, and by introducing new diseases.

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