EINNEWS, November 19—A broad-based coalition of consumer, environmental, business and fishing groups is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deny approval of a plan to raise genetically engineered salmon.

The coalition presented the FDA with more than 360,000 public comments on the issue. The public comment period closes Monday and many believe the FDA is poised to approve the plan shortly thereafter.

At issue is a proposal by the private company AquaBounty, which wants to begin raising transgenic salmon in Maine. While the company claims that the salmon farm will be raised only on land-based facilities,, many fish and wildlife experts believe it would be impossible to keep some of the engineered salmon from escaping, with unknown consequences to the North Atlantic wild salmon fishery.

FDA’s decision to go ahead with this approval process is misguided and fails to take into account the numerous human health, environmental and animal welfare concerns that have been raised,” said Dr. George Leonard, Aquaculture Program Director at Ocean Conservancy at a coalition press conference Thursday.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety, said, “Consumers clearly do not want to eat genetically engineered salmon and should FDA decide to move forward despite overwhelming opposition it must be labeled.”

“We all know there is a great appetite for salmon, but the solution is not to ‘farm’ genetically engineered versions to put more on our dinner tables; the solution is to work to bring our wild salmon populations back” said Jonathan Rosenfield, Ph. D. fish ecologist for SalmonAid. “The approval of these transgenic fish will only exacerbate the problem.”

FDA’s Advisory Committee has raised concerns regarding inadequate sample sizes, incomplete data, questionable culling practices, troubling physical abnormalities and poor environmental and scientific assessments.

A Lake Research Partners poll commissioned by Food & Water Watch and released in September found that 91 percent of Americans believe FDA should not allow genetically engineered fish and meat into the marketplace. A 2008 Consumers Union nationwide poll found that 95 percent of respondents said they thought food from genetically engineered animals should be labeled.

For more seafood news, visit Seafood News Today (http://seafood.einnews.com), a seafood media monitoring service from EIN News.