On twitter I follow change.org and that every once in a while an item catches my attention. What catches my attention usually depends on what is occupying my desk and mind at the time. Today I took a break to look at what this item was about.
I read the text of the petition and wondered on what basis the claims and demands of the petition were based. All it says is:
Genetically engineered salmon are on a fast track to being the first GE Animal approved for human consumption. The FDA is trying to approve GE salmon as a new animal drug, but the truth is U.S. Food agencies don’t have a way to fully evaluate the impacts of GE salmon on human health or the environment. Worst of all, if these GE salmon are introduced into our food system, they won’t be labeled, so consumers won’t know what they’re buying.
Can you take action to keep genetically engineered salmon out of the U.S.?
The text of the petition reads:
Dear President Obama,
I urge you to direct the FDA to reject the approval of Aquabounty’s GE Salmon. The FDA does not currently have adequate safety testing to ensure that these animals will be safe for human health, wild fish populations and the environment.
Worst of all, while consumers have a right to know what’s in their food and how it’s being produced, under current law, these genetically engineered salmon would not have to be labeled.
These genetically engineered animals should be rejected for consumer and environmental safety reasons.
Thank you for your consideration,
Now, if I were the person reading such a petition, could I possibly take it seriously? No. This is not how responsible civil society has to act. This is nonsense.
I have as much concern as anybody else for what (dead animal or vegetable) lands on my plate. However I find this kind of call for action to be totally unsupported by facts. A call for action tha is just hanging there without the evidence and supporting facts is just an empty call. I can not take this seriously, and it does more harm than good.
When it comes to genetically modified salmon, I want to see the human health risk assessment results, and I want to see the environmental risk assessment results. Really I want to see the ALL risk assessment data in the public domain and I do not need to know the company’ secrets to have access to the data. I want to see independent and academic risk assessors’ interpretation of the data and I want to be able to follow the arguments. Do not tell me what to do, give me the data, give me the experts opinions, and give me some access to the debate. I do not want to decide on ideology or belief.
The least of my worries at this point is the existence of a label on the silly fish. Labeling has some good points, but it does not replace complete transparency in the risk evaluation chain.