A bipartisan group of lawmakers has called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop the approval process for genetically engineered salmon. Fifteen members of the House of Representatives and eight members of the U.S. Senate signed separate letters to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg expressing economic and environmental concerns over the fast-growing fish.

“We are concerned that the FDA’s review of GE salmon uses the same criteria as it would for approving a veterinary drug,” noted the Senate letter, adding that “the lack of transparency in the approval process is extremely disconcerting given that approval of GE fish is likely the first step toward approval of many more GE animals for human consumption.”

The House recently approved an amendment prohibiting FDA from using money to approve GE salmon applications in fiscal year 2012 and, according to the letters, similar language has been drafted for consideration by the Senate. “Given the strong and ever-growing Congressional opposition to the approval of GE salmon in both chambers, we conclude that spending more time and additional taxpayer money on reviewing GE fish would not be in the public interest,” the House letter said. Currently under FDA application review, AquaBounty Technologies seeks to produce Atlantic salmon containing Chinook and oceanpout genes that accelerate maturation. Details were covered in Issue 362 of this Update.