September 20, 2010
Consumers Union’s Senior Scientist to Appear at Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee Meeting Today and Tomorrow
Yonkers, N.Y.—Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today stated that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should require labeling of all genetically engineered (GE) animals, including AquAdvantage salmon, which has been genetically engineered to reach mature size more quickly. The Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee (VMAC) is meeting today to decide whether FDA should approve AquAdvantage’s application and will meet tomorrow to decide whether the GE salmon should be labeled. Comments on the labeling issue by Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at CU, who will appear at both hearings, can be found here.
CU review of FDA’s appraisal of some of the safety issues associated with AquAdvantage salmon found that it has not been shown to be safe. Dr. Hansen will appear today before the VMAC to discuss his findings, which can be found here. CU previously sent a letter to FDA expressing concerns about the short 14-day review process and composition of the VMAC. A copy of the letter can be found here. “FDA should require labeling to insure that any unexpected or unintended effects of engineering this salmon, the first GE animal to request a New Animal Drug Approval, come to FDA attention,” said Dr. Hansen. “Recently certain drugs approved by FDA as safe have turned out to have unexpected health effects after they were widely used by consumers. It is essential to label a GE animal so that any unexpected effects will be recognized and consumer health protected.”
Current FDA rules only call for labels for altered food when there is a “material difference” in the product’s end result. CU disagrees with both FDA’s assertion that genetic engineering itself does not, in and of itself, constitute a “material” difference under the law and also with their definition of what constitutes a “material” difference.
In a 2008 Consumers Union nationwide poll, 95 percent of respondents said they thought food from genetically engineered animals should be labeled, and 78 percent strongly agreed with this. A copy of the poll can be found at: http://www.greenerchoices.org/foodpoll2008/
Naomi Starkman, 917.539.3924-c