Friday, June 7, 2019

Genetically Engineered Salmon may be Swimming to a Market Near You!



Genetically Engineered Salmon has been in the works for years.  And now it appears it may soon be coming to market.


The Transgene AquaAdvantage Salmon and
a Conventionally Bred Counterpart 

Here is the text of CNN's recent reporting at this link: 


https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/08/politics/fda-approves-sale-genetically-engineered-salmon/index.html


"The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it is lifting an import alert that stopped genetically engineered salmon from entering the US. 
"The salmon, called "Frankenfish" by some, won FDA approval in 2015 
-- the first approval of a genetically engineered animal intended for food. The FDA, after years of review, had deemed food from the AquaAdvantage Salmon safe to eat in 2015 and said there is no biological difference between these salmon and nongenetically engineered salmon.

"But Congress blocked the FDA in 2016 from allowing the fish to be sold in the US until it finalized labeling guidelines to inform consumers the product was genetically engineered. The FDA then went ahead and implemented the import alert."

[Editorial note: See earlier NYTimes reporting on this at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/business/genetically-engineered-salmon-approved-for-consumption.html] For your  convenience of reader a pdf copy is also posted immediately below in this blog at:
 http://www.illinoisrighttoknowgmo.org/2019/06/new-york-times-reports-approval-of.html]  

Genetically engineered 'Frankenfish' salmon wins FDA approval

    Thursday, June 6, 2019

    New York Times Reports Approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon in 2015.

    The New York Times reported the approval of Genetically Engineered Salmon on November 20, 2015 at:


    For your convenience here is the text of that article. 
    (The "all caps" emphasis was in the NYT article online)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    By Andrew Pollack
    Nov. 19, 2015
    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 salmonpopulations 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. 

    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.

    A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 19, 2015, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Genetically Engineered Salmon Declared Ready for U.S. Plates

    Wednesday, May 15, 2019

    Jurors Award $$$ Millions for Damages Associated with Glyphosate

    Here are just a few of the recent stories in the news about large jury awards to individuals alleging injury by the weedkiller Roundup made by Bayer (formerly Monsanto).

    The principal active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate.  And the most frequent use of genetic engineering in the U.S. today is to render plants "Roundup Ready" --- therefore able to withstand applications of glyphosate used to kill weeds while allowing the food crops to survive.

    This has greatly increased exposure to glyphosate by farm workers and others as well as glyphosate pervades the environment.

    You can find much more about this online and keep up to date on these cases by searching on terms related to Roundup jury verdicts.  

    Below are just a few samples!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

    1.
     "March 27, 2019         A jury in San Francisco has awarded a California man $80 million in damages after he claimed that the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer.
    The same six-person panel earlier this month sided with 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, whose lawyers argued that the glyphosate-based herbicide was a "substantial factor" in causing non-Hodgkins lymphoma in Hardeman.
    The Sonoma County man was diagnosed in February 2015. Hardeman had used Roundup on his 56-acre property for more than two decades, according to his lawsuit."
    See the rest of this story at:
    https://www.npr.org/2019/03/27/707439575/jury-awards-80-million-in-damages-in-roundup-weed-killer-cancer-trial



    2.
    "Sat August 11, 2018 (CNN) San Francisco jurors just ruled that Roundup, the most popular weedkiller in the world, gave a former school groundskeeper terminal cancer. 
    So they awarded him $289 million in damages -- mostly to punish the agricultural company Monsanto.
    Dewayne Johnson's victory Friday could set a massive precedent for thousands of other cases claiming Monsanto's famous herbicide causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 
    Johnson's case was the first to go to trial because doctors said he was near death. And in California, dying plaintiffs can be granted expedited trials."
    See the rest of this story at:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/10/health/monsanto-johnson-trial-verdict/index.html

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Sunday, April 14, 2019

    Stop Glyphosate Now! Support the Keep Food Safe From Glyphosate Act of 2019!

    A recent post discussed lawsuits brought by people harmed by glyphosate and the herbicide (weed killer) containing this chemical.  
    http://www.illinoisrighttoknowgmo.org/2019/04/a-new-headache-for-bayer.html

    These glyphosate-loaded weed killers are still widely used in the United States today!  In fact, the most frequent agricultural use of genetic engineering in the United States today is to develop plants able to withstand applications of glyphosate, which has been found to be a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization.    

    Glyphosate is the principal active ingredient in Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) best-selling herbicide, Roundup.  Crops genetically engineered to survive it allow whole fields to be treated with glyphosate-containing herbicides without killing the food crops.  
    Glyphosate is also used as a "crop drying" agent for certain crops. 

    Beside the resulting environmental contamination, human health and beneficial wildlife are also at risk from this use of glyphosate.  Read about lawsuits and awards to cancer victims and others at: 
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bayer-ceo/ceo-sees-bayer-massively-affected-by-herbicide-litigation-idUSKCN1RN0WS

    Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) has introduced a bill in Congress to require the government to test our food for glyphosate residues and take other measures to reduce glyphosate contamination.

    This will not completely stop the use of glyphosate, but it is an important step in the right direction.

    Our friends at Just Label It (www.justlabelit.org) and Only Organic (www.onlyorganic.org) are getting the word out about this and have provided a "salsa" form to make it easy for you to share you views with your Representatives in Congress.  Just use the "salsa" link below to ask your Representative in Congress to support the Keep Food Safe From Glyphosate Act of 2019. 

    TAKE A MINUTE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
    You can use their words (or your own) and it will go automatically to your Representative in Congress. 
    http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50202/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=22412&tag=201904GlyphTestingBillOO&track=ACTION_GlyphTestingBill_OO

    OR, If you prefer to write or call your Representative in Congress yourself, this website helps you find your Representative’s contact information: 
    https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

    Ask your Representative to SUPPORT "H.R. 1783, the Keep Food Safe from Glyphosate Act of 2019." 

    You can read this bill and track its progress at: 
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1783?s=1&r=26

    Here is more information about this dangerous agricultural chemical enabled by genetic engineering.
    http://www.justlabelit.org/top-news-stories-on-monsantos-glyphosate-take-away-facts/

    Please act NOW to support this legislation to help keep glyphosate residues out of our food!  

    A New Headache for Bayer?

    Reuters recently reported (April 11, 2019) that Bayer's CEO sees this company "massively" affected by litigation involving the herbicide (weedkiller) Roundup, produced by Monsanto, a company now owned by Bayer. 

    Glyphosate, the principal active ingredient in Roundup, has already been designated as  "probably carcinogenic to humans"  by the World Health Organization.  (However, some other regulators have disagreed with these findings.) 

    Several kinds of crops are genetically engineered to withstand exposure to Roundup so that entire fields can be sprayed, killing the weeds while sparing the crops.   But this use of glyphosate can massively increase human exposure.  

    According to Reuters, Bayer acquired Monsanto last year for $63 billion, and has since lost $34 billion from its market value following U.S. jury awards finding Bayer liable for failure to warn of "alleged cancer risks."  More than 10,000 cases are still pending according to Reuters. 

    You can read this article here:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bayer-ceo/ceo-sees-bayer-massively-affected-by-herbicide-litigation-idUSKCN1RN0WS

    Thursday, January 10, 2019

    Whitewash Author to Speak in Chicago!!

    CAREY GILLAM, the author of WHITEWASH: The Story of a Weedkiller, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science,  will speak in CHICAGO on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4 at 5:30 p.m.

    She will speak in downtown Chicago at the Gleacher Center of the University of Chicago, just off North Michigan Avenue.

    This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, but to attend you MUST respond using this "Eventbrite" invitation. 
    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/farm-to-table-weed-killer-cancer-and-corporate-power-registration-54166114306?ref=eios&aff=eios

    You can learn more about Investigative Journalist Carey Gillam here: http://careygillam.com

    And you can find her book WHITEWASH at Amazon at: 
    https://www.amazon.com/Whitewash-Killer-Cancer-Corruption-Science/dp/1610918320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547149523&sr=8-1&keywords=whitewASH+CAREY+GILLAM).

    Whitewash by
    Carey Gillam
    As you already know, one of the chief applications for genetic engineering is to render crops immune to the effects glyphosate, a dangerous weedkiller, so that weeds in surrounding areas can be killed without harming crops.   This has exposed farmworkers, consumers, and anyone who comes in contact with the air and water polluted by glyphosate to be exposed to this harmful and reportedly carcinogenic chemical. 

    We are delighted that Ms. Gillam will be speaking at one of the foremost schools of business administration in the U.S., under the auspices of the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State (https://research.chicagobooth.edu/stigler) which states as it's goal: "... to promote and disseminate research on regulatory capture, crony capitalism, and the various distortions that special interest groups impose on capitalism."

    Do not miss this opportunity to learn about this important threat to our health and our environment!   

    Here again is the invitation; registration here is REQUIRED for this free event.  We strongly  suggest you register soon!t
    i  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/farm-to-table-weed-killer-cancer-and-corporate-power-registration-54166114306?ref=eios&aff=eios

    Whitewash author Carey Gillam
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    NOTE:  While one of the principal uses of genetic engineering is to facilitate the application of the herbicide (weedkiller) Glyphosate on certain crops, Glyphosate is widely used in other contexts as well.  So Carey Gillam's book Whitewash will be of interest to food consumers generally, and not only to those principally interested in genetically engineered (or bioengineered) crops.  

    Saturday, March 3, 2018

    Look Out! "GMO 2.0" is Here!

    New genetic techniques affecting food crops are now on the scene.  You may have heard about CRISPR, Gene Drive, Synthetic Biology, and others.  What are they and why should we be concerned?
      
    Here are some a few articles about these new technologies: 
    From the New York Times  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/science/genetically-edited-foods-crispr.html

    And, with more detail, from the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) on "New Genetic Modification Techniques" (NGMT):
    https://ensser.org/publications/ngmt-statement/

    Since these new products are neither regulated for safety nor labeled, and since we still do not have a clear picture of the health, environmental or food security risks they entail, many people may wish to avoid them.  But how?

    The Non-GMO Project, nongmoproject.org has addressed this. (Their verification mark is intended to give shoppers the assurance that a product has completed a comprehensive third-party verification for compliance with "Non-GMO Project Standard." the most rigorous Standard in the industry.) 


    In case you are not familiar with the Non-GMO Project, here is a picture of the mark you may see on products at the market. 


     Here is their statement concerning "GMO 2.0": 

    Biotechnology companies are making a concerted effort to distance themselves from the consumer and manufacturer rejection of GMOs by claiming that new genetic engineering techniques are not actually GMOs. These new genetic engineering techniques such as synthetic biology, gene drives, and gene editing, like CRISPR and TALEN, are often not “transgenic,” meaning the products of GMO 2.0 do not contain genes from multiple species the way “traditional” GMOs do. However, they are still products of biotechnology as defined by the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of international food standards; the Codex definition is the same one used by the Non-GMO Project.

    Some of the new types of genetic engineering can’t yet be identified using current testing methodologies. In order to keep these technologies out of Non-GMO Project Verified products, our Standard outlines affidavit-based requirements for Non-Testable High-Risk Inputs. It is important to note that these requirements are within the context of the Project’s rigorous verification program, which includes segregation and traceability measures and testing for Major (Testable) GMO risk ingredients. This will support manufacturers in meeting consumer expectations, ensuring that the ingredients they are using are truly non-GMO. 
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    We hope to learn more about health and safety concerns, environmental effects and food security issues associated with these products in the near future.  But without this knowledge, many consumers, following generally accepted precautionary principles, may choose to avoid these products.