A group of Democratic Massachusetts lawmakers asked the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday to continue using its science-based approach in its approval process of biotechnology applications, intensifying the political debate over the FDA’s consideration of genetically engineered salmon for food.
Although Reps. Edward Markey, Barney Frank and James McGovern did not advocate for or against genetically engineered salmon, they did implore FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to conclude the approval process.
"We are aware that some have argued that the review process for one particular application – for genetically-engineered farm raised Atlantic salmon submitted by AquaBounty Technologies Inc. – should be terminated before FDA has finalized its conclusions,” they wrote in a letter to Hamburg. “While we take no position on the merits of the AquaBounty application, we strongly encourage the agency to permit the review process of this application to proceed to completion.”
The letter comes more than a month after eight senators representing coastal states asked the FDA to abandon its approval process of AquaBounty’s product – which the FDA has been studying for 15 years – threatening to push legislation to strip the FDA's funding to study the fish if the agency did not comply.
The senators, including Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), cited threats to public health and the environment as reasons to halt the approval process.