When “Squelching Scientific Inquiry” is Prudent
As Food & Water Watch points out, the August 2nd Los Angeles Times editorial, “Science and salmon” takes a “pro-industry, anti-regulatory approach to the controversial pending FDA approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon.”
While admitting some risks have already been linked to the GE fish, such as potential for mating with wild populations, the LA Times editorial accuses eight senators of “squelching scientific inquiry.” Why? Because the eight have warned the Food and Drug Administration “that they will pursue legislation—already passed in the House—to keep the FDA from using any of its funding to study whether genetically modified salmon are safe for the environment and consumers.”
What the editorial dismisses as “squelching scientific inquiry” is actually a reasonable call for the kind of independent verification the GE industry has fought from the beginning. Here is what the senators’ letter actually says:
“We are concerned that the FDA’s review of GE salmon uses the same criteria as it would for approving a veterinary drug. This level of genetic manipulation is clearly not a veterinary drug. In addition, the lack of transparency in the approval process is extremely disconcerting given that the approval of GE fish is likely the first step toward approval of many more GE animals for human consumption.”
It is not anti-science to call on the FDA to stop wasting dollars on an approval process that will not be open and transparent or appropriate to the issue. The GE industry has never been open and transparent, and the FDA will be basing its decisions on industry-supplied research. In spite of all mounting evidence against the GE fish (see Related Care2 Stories below), pressure from the biotech industry is moving the U.S. government closer to approval.
Food & Water Watch has compiled resources that dig beneath the reassurances issued by industry, including those that show federal scientists have expressed concerns. The biotech industry has spent more than half a billion dollars on lobbying. Polluting industries stand to gain the most. And on it goes, including a suggestion industry-funded PR hacks may be providing “major newspapers around the country with their GE salmon talking points.”
It is disappointing to see one of the best newspapers in the country brushing aside the senators’ legitimate concerns, but it is another reason to be all the more vigilant in searching out information not compiled or funded by industry sources.
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Photo by Cathryn Wellner