The National Research Council panel of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that more work needs to be done to ensure that genetically engineered salmon, corn and other organisms do not taint the food supply or wipe out other species.
Scientists have been trying to find newer technologies that could slow down or completely stop the movement of genetically engineered species, or the spread of their genes. According to the panel, these methods of ‘bioconfinement’ are still in the early research stages, especially the new roducts deemed hazardous, and show no complete guarantee that they can be kept under control.
A prime example of this, found in a case study and presented by the panel, is the fast growing, gene-altered salmon that is under development by a technology group in Massachusetts. The technology group wants to sell their gene-altered fish for use in ocean pens along the East Coast where other farm-raised salmon are grown. Even though the company acknowledges that some fish will escape, they say the fish would be too dependent on food supplied by humans and are likely to die in the open ocean.
However, the panel disagrees and believes the salmon won’t die, but instead would wipe out stocks of wild Atlantic salmon by competing with them for food and, among males, competing to mate with females. In response to the panel’s concern, the technology company says they plan to sell only sterile, female salmon. But as of now, the methods used for sterilizing fish are not entirely reliable, and the panel urges the company to have the fish tested individually for sterility or have them grown only in tanks on land
The National Research Council panel also recommends that companies and laboratories adopt an integrated confinement system that includes at least two distinct techniques for the organisms that pose risk. These plans should be overseen by regulators and should factor in the likelihood of human error, the panel added. If accepted, the recommendations are said to impose new costs and burdens on the U.S. biotechnology industry.
Washington Post January 20, 2004
Dr. Mercola’s Comment:
This information should come as no surprise to longtime readers of this newsletter as I posted my serious reservations and concerns about this issue over three years ago. The real question now is, will the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration act upon the many important concerns raised by this report? Often reports commissioned by government agencies are never acted upon because of pressure from the industries that are affected. The expense to enact the additional safeguards suggested in this report would be costly to the biotech industry. Will the USDA act on behalf of the American public and require additional safeguards, or will the agency do nothing in order to avoid creating extra financial burdens on the biotech industry?
Just think if the agency does not act upon this report, our grandchildren may not have access to any non-genetically modified food, and the health of our society may continue to rapidly decline. This lack of regulation and total irresponsibility in using genetically modified foods is a disaster waiting to happen.