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U.S. Federal court declares GE salmon unlawful

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated core environmental laws in approving genetically engineered salmon. The Court ruled that FDA ignored the serious environmental consequences of approving genetically engineered salmon and the full extent of plans to grow and commercialize the salmon in the U.S. and around the world, violating the National Environmental Policy Act. The Court also ruled that FDA's unilateral decision that genetically engineered salmon could have no possible effect on highly-endangered, wild Atlantic salmon was wrong, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The Court ordered the FDA to go back to the drawing board and the FDA must now thoroughly analyze the environmental consequences of an escape of genetically engineered salmon into the wild.

In 2016, Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice—representing a broad client coalition of environmental, consumer, commercial and recreational fishing organizations and the Quinault Indian Nation—sued the FDA for approving the first-ever commercial genetically engineered animal, an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow twice as fast as its wild counterpart. The genetically engineered salmon was produced by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. with DNA from Atlantic salmon, Pacific king salmon, and Arctic ocean eelpout. This marks the first time any government in the world has approved a commercially genetically engineered animal as food.

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