‘SALMON PEOPLE: THE RISKS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FISH FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST’ FILM PREMIERES (Source ECO Watch)
In 2015, the FDA approved genetically engineered salmon, the first ever GE animal to be approved for human consumption anywhere in the world. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians called for sufficient consultation with Tribes to assess the environmental impact of GE salmon production, a legal requirement the FDA did not honor.
In 2016, the Quinault Nation joined 11 environmental and food safety organizations in a lawsuit against the FDA. On April 30, 2018, Center for Food Safety and Community Alliance for Global Justice premiered, “Salmon People: The Risks of Genetically Engineered Fish for the Pacific Northwest,” followed by a panel discussion featuring indigenous and advocacy perspectives on the risks, labeling, and lawsuits currently surrounding GE salmon.
“Salmon is the pillar of our culture,” said Valerie Segrest, cofounder of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, featured in the film and on the panel. “For thousands of years the Coast Salish people have organized our lives around salmon. Corporate ownership of such a cultural keystone is a direct attack of our identity, and the legacy our ancestors have left us.” Dr. Pete Knutson, a local fisherman who teaches environmental anthropology at Seattle Central College, connected the dots between aquaculture and GE salmon. “Salmon feedlots in our waters are subsidized by the degradation of the wild marine environment. Salmon farming multinationals have now joined biotechnology giants to produce synthetic salmon-like fish which presents new dangers,” Knutson cautioned. George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety and co-counsel for the plaintiffs argued that the FDA didn’t have the authority to approve and regulate GE salmon in the first place. The FDA claimed The 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act grants it the right to approve and regulate GE salmon, but those provisions were meant to ensure the safety of veterinary drugs given to livestock, not address entirely new GE animals that can pass along their altered genes to the next generation. “This case is about the future of food: FDA should not, and cannot, responsibly regulate this GE animal, nor any future GE animals, by treating them as drugs under a 1938 law,” said Kimbrell.