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Genetically altered salmon: Safe to eat?

  |   Sept. 20, 2010 at 12:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A Canadian company's 15-year effort to develop and sell genetically engineered salmon to consumers is getting a public airing in Washington.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding public meetings Monday and Tuesday to address science-based issues, and receive public comment about AquaBounty Technologies' proposal to sell the fish, the FDA said.

Monday's meeting with the FDA's Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee is an orientation session about the science and regulatory process used to evaluate genetically engineered food.

At Tuesday's session, the FDA will discuss legal principles for food labeling, and describe information about the company made prior to the hearing.

The FDA previously said AquAdvantage Salmon are as safe to eat as other Atlantic salmon and have similar vitamins, minerals and fatty acids.

The company's salmon have been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as other Atlantic salmon, the FDA said.

If the salmon is approved for consumers, it would be the first genetically modified food animal on the market.

The FDA was criticized for its earlier remarks the altered fish are safe to eat.

"The United States could be approving a genetically engineered fish with really inadequate data, and ... this opens the door to other genetically engineered animals," Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network recently told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

The public has been invited to speak at both meetings.

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