WSU Prof. Key Advocate at D.C. Hearings for Approving Genetically Modified Salmon

Geneticist Dr. Gary Thorgaard, Director of the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University, finds himself in the middle of a momentous decision to potentially approve the first genetically modified animal for human consumption in the U.S..

He is a member of the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee that has been asked by the FDA for a recommendation regarding a genetically modified Atlantic Salmon created by Aquabounty.

At hearings held eariler this week the majority opinion of the committee was to recommend more testing, specifically regarding possible allergic reactions in consumers. Dr. Thorgaard was in the minority, advocating that the salmon should be approved without delay. He said;

“I would not feel alarmed about eating this kind of fish,” said Gary Thorgaard, a professor and fish researcher at Washington State University.

Another concern is whether the salmon, if approved will be labeled so that consumers’ know that the animal they are eating is genetically modified. After three days of hearings the answer to that question is still unkown;

Because the agency says the GE salmon is not substantially different from regular salmon, by FDA’s own regulations AquaBounty wouldn’t be required to label it as genetically engineered. All the consumer groups who commented feel that the public has the right to know whether they’re buying GE salmon.

Though at least at first it would be easy to tell — the AquAdvantage would be the only salmon coming from Panama, and under Country Of Origin Labeling rules the salmon would have to be labeled Product of Panama.