Umweltorganisationen bringen die kanadische Regierung vor Gericht. Sie versuchen damit die Produktion von GV-Lachslaich zu stoppen. Der Laich soll in Kanada produziert werden und dann nach Panama zur Aufzucht geschickt werden. Die Umweltorganisationen befürchten, dass sich der GV-Lachs mit dem Atlantischen Wildlachs auskreuzen könnte. Am 19. November 2015 gab die us-amerikanische Food and Drug Admimistration den Gentech-Lachs als erstes gentechnisch verändertes Tier für den Konsum frei. (The Guardian, 17.11.15/ New York Times, 19.11.2015)


A) Quelle: The Guardian

Canada sued over approval of genetically modified salmon scheme

US firm’s plan to produce GM salmon eggs in Canada and ship them to Panama threatens contamination of wild fish in a ‘huge live experiment’, lawsuit argues

Environmental groups are taking the Canadian government to court in an attempt to halt the production of genetically modified salmon eggs, claiming that the process risks a “huge live experiment” with the genetic makeup of all wild Atlantic salmon.

A US firm has been granted permission to produce fertile salmon eggs in Canada and ship them to Panama, where they will be grown in the hope that the fish will be given approval for human consumption in the US and Canada.

AquaBounty Technologies, which is based in Massachusetts, insists that its genetically modified fish pose no threat to the environment and will be kept in special disease- and antibiotic-free conditions. The modified fish can grow to the size of wild salmon with 75% less feed, reducing the product’s carbon footprint by up to 25 times, AquaBounty claims.

However, environmentalists will head to Canada’s federal court on Tuesday to argue that there is a real risk of mixing between the GM salmon and wild fish and that the Canadian government was wrong to approve the production of the eggs in Prince Edward Island.

“This will potentially be the world’s first genetically modified fish available for human consumption and it’s clear the GM industry wants to get other animal products approved after this,” said Mark Butler, campaigner at the Ecology Action Centre, which is bringing the case alongside the Living Oceans Society.

“We think the measures to avoid mixing with the wild Atlantic salmon are inadequate and once there is genetic contamination the wild salmon is forever changed. It would be a huge live experiment and we wouldn’t know the consequences.”

Butler said hurricanes, human error or equipment failure could release the GM fish from their land-based hatcheries into the ocean. He added that treatment to ensure the GM salmon cannot reproduce is not always effective.

The environmentalists’ court case alleges that the Canadian government breached its own environmental laws by providing AquaBounty with a far wider permit than it was assessed on, potentially opening the way for other companies to produce GM fish eggs in Canada. The lawsuit also states the government did not follow the correct procedures in its approval.

AquaBounty has been seeking approval to sell its GM products for consumption in the US since 1995. The company’s chief executive, Ron Stotish, said the court case is “completely without merit”.

A spokeswoman for Environment Canada, the government’s environmental agency, would not comment on the case.

Opposition to genetically modified food endures in many countries, with activists in India this week criticising reported plans to produce GM mustard in the country.


B) Quelle: New York Times, 19.11.2015

Genetically Engineered Salmon Approved for Consumption

Federal regulators on Thursday approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables.

The approval by the Food and Drug Administration caps a long struggle for AquaBounty Technologies, a small company that first approached the F.D.A. about approval in the 1990s. The agency made its initial determination that the fish would be safe to eat and for the environment more than five years ago.

The approval of the salmon has been fiercely opposed by some consumer and environmental groups, which have argued that the safety studies were inadequate and that wild salmon populations might be affected if the engineered fish were to escape into the oceans and rivers.

“This unfortunate, historic decision disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world, who have voiced strong opposition,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.

Within hours of the agency’s decision on Thursday, one consumer advocacy group, the Center for Food Safety, said it and other organizations would file a lawsuit challenging the approval.

The AquAdvantage salmon, as it is known, is an Atlantic salmon that has been genetically modified so that it grows to market size faster than a non-engineered farmed salmon, in as little as half the time.

“The F.D.A. has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty regarding the AquAdvantage salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” Bernadette Dunham, director of the agency’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.

F.D.A. officials said on Thursday that the process took so long because it was the first approval of its kind. People involved in the application suspect that the Obama administration delayed approval because it was wary of a political backlash.

The officials said the fish would not have to be labeled as being genetically engineered, a policy consistent with its stance on foods made from genetically engineered crops. However, it issued draft guidance as to wording that companies could use to voluntarily label the salmon as genetically engineered or to label other salmon as not genetically engineered.

Despite the approval, it is likely to be at least two years before any of the salmon reaches supermarkets, and at first it will be in tiny amounts.

Ronald Stotish, the chief executive of AquaBounty, which is majority-owned by Intrexon Corporation, said he was delighted and somewhat surprised by the approval after all this time. “We had no indication that approval was imminent,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Stotish declined to say what the plans were for bringing the fish to market, other than that the salmon would not be in stores immediately because it would take about two years for even these fast-growing salmon to reach market size. It is also not likely there will be much of the salmon on the market because the approved production facility, which is in Panama, has the capacity to produce only about 100 tons of fish a year — a tiny amount compared with the more than 200,000 tons of Atlantic salmon the United States imports each year.

Mr. Stotish said he did not know if approval was still needed from Panama to export the fish.

It is not clear how well the salmon will sell. Some leading supermarkets have already said, in response to the vocal opposition, that they have no plans to sell it.

The fish are supposed to be raised inland in contained tanks to lessen the chances that they will escape into the wild. AquaBounty and its supporters say this will also be less stressful on the environment than using pens in the ocean. And it could eventually allow the fish to be raised in the United States, rather than being imported, as most farmed Atlantic salmon is.

For now, however, the fish are being raised in Panama, from eggs produced in Prince Edward Island, Canada. If the salmon were bred or raised elsewhere, for marketing to Americans, that would require separate approvals.

However, moving beyond Canada and Panama seems to be the plan, according to a regulatory filing by AquaBounty a year ago. It said at that time that after winning F.D.A. approval it would look to build a hatchery in the United States and expand the one in Canada to sell more eggs to fish farmers, who would then grow the salmon to market size. AquaBounty said it might also grow salmon from the eggs itself. In addition to the United States, it said it eventually hoped to sell the salmon in Canada, Argentina, Brazil and China.

The approval could help other efforts to develop genetically modified animals. Scientists and biotechnology industry executives have complained that the long, unexplained delay in approving the salmon was a deterrent to the field. Several other attempts to develop genetically engineered animals for consumption, like a pig whose manure would be less polluting, have fallen by the wayside.

Now, however, there has been a surge of interest in developing new genetically altered farm animals and pets because new techniques, including one known as Crispr-Cas9, allow scientists to edit animal genomes rather than add genes from other species. That has made it far easier to create altered animals.

Scientists in China, for instance, recently created goats with more muscle and longer hair. Researchers in Scotland used gene editing to create pigs resistant to African swine fever. It is not yet clear whether animals created this way would fall under F.D.A. regulation.

The AquAdvantage salmon contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a genetic switch from the ocean pout, an eel-like creature, that keeps the transplanted gene continuously active, whereas the salmon’s own growth hormone gene is active only parts of the year. The company has said the fish can grow to market weight in 18 to 20 months, compared with 28 to 36 months for conventionally farmed salmon.

Opponents of the fish say that if the bigger fish were to escape, they could outcompete wild salmon for food or mates. Among the opponents have been members of Alaska’s congressional delegation, who say they are worried about the effects on the image and health of wild salmon.

“This harebrained decision goes to show that our federal agencies are incapable of using common sense,” Representative Don Young, a Republican, said in a statement.

But some scientists have dismissed these concerns. William Muir, a professor of animal sciences at Purdue University, said the fish posed no risk to the environment. “In contrast, the current practice of using wild caught salmon as a food source is not sustainable; our oceans are overfished,” he said in a statement. “This development provides a safe and sustainable alternative.”

The F.D.A. said on Thursday that there were multiple physical barriers in the Canada and Panama facilities to prevent any escape. The salmon are also made sterile to prevent reproduction in the event they do escape, although the sterilization technique is not foolproof.

The F.D.A. regulates genetically engineered animals as veterinary drugs, using the argument that the gene inserted into the animal meets the definition of a drug. Critics have branded this an inadequate solution intended to squeeze a new technology into an old regulatory framework. They say the F.D.A. is not as qualified as other government agencies to do environmental assessments. The White House is now reviewing the entire framework for regulating genetically engineered products.

The F.D.A. said that to approve the salmon, it determined that the fish was safe to eat, that the inserted genetic elements did not harm the fish itself, and that the company had adequately proved that the salmon grew faster.

AquaBounty, which is based in Maynard, Mass., has long struggled to raise enough money to stay in business. It is now about 60 percent owned by Intrexon, a company started by the biotechnology entrepreneur Randal J. Kirk to pursue synthetic biology, a term for sophisticated genetic engineering.

Intrexon has also acquired the company that developed a recently approved genetically modified apple resistant to browning and a British company working on genetically modified insects, such as mosquitoes that might be tested in the Florida Keys as a way to prevent dengue fever. Shares of Intrexon rose nearly 4 percent Thursday, closing at $36.65.