Problems Overlooked by FDA Regarding Approval of GM Salmon
1) Increase Cancer Risks
Currently, 1 in 6 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime and 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. According to a recent study, men who were given IGF-1 as an aging supplement had almost twice the risk of cancer death . This finding is consistent with breast cancer in women.
Assumption: There are 23 million salmon consumers, of which 50% men, 50% women
Assuming a 1% cancer risk increase:
High risk of cancer (salmon consumption 8xs/month): 150 cases of prostate cancer
Moderate risk of cancer (consume salmon 1/month): 2,300 cases of prostate cancer
High risk of cancer (salmon consumption 8xs/month): 113 cases of breast cancer
Moderate risk of cancer (consume salmon 1/month): 1,910 cases of breast cancer
Total Cost of Salmon-related Cancer cases
Men: $166 mill (Assuming cost to treat prostate cancer is $42,750/person)
Women: $162 mill (Assuming cost to treat breast cancer is $60,000/person)
Another economic issue with legalizing GM salmon is that since AquaBounty (AB) currently holds the patent rights to produce GM salmon, AB will be a price setter because they have the patent rights. AB has no incentive to lower price until competing GM salmon enters the market. The overall price for salmon will not lower right away.
2) Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (ARB)
ARB transfers from livestock to humans. Due to this transfer of bacteria, there is a $4 Billion annual increase in healthcare costs. Assuming each American eats 182.5 lbs of meat per year, there would an additional $22 million spent on healthcare costs per lb. Assuming ARB transfers from salmon at same rate and GM salmon becomes 50% of national supply in 5yrs, annual health care costs will increase by $22 million.
3) Environmental Risks
When AquaBounty’s monopoly ends new companies will enter the market, and it will be increasingly difficult to regulate the containment of GM salmon. Competing firms will be incentivized to lower their marginal costs, creating an environment that is innovative and less risk averse.
“Action should be taken to correct a problem as soon as there is evidence that harm may occur, not after the harm has already occurred.”
In addition, several contingent valuation (CV) surveys indicate willingness to pay (WTP) for saving an endangered species range from $6 to $95 depending on species.
Assuming 223 million adults in the United States.
Value of Wild Salmon
LOW CV at $6 $1.3 Billion
HIGH CV at $95 $21.2 Billion
Another concern are problems with Inland Aquaculture:
Cannot build facility near body of water, “cyclone belt” or in agriculture-suitable land (soil must be impervious). There are also issues of waste management and negative externalities to surrounding community from aquaculture byproduct.
Randall Lutter and Katherine Tucker, "Unacknowledged Health Benefits of Genetically Modified Food: Salmon and Heart Disease Deaths", AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies; Tufts University http://www.agbioforum.org/v5n2/v5n2a04-lutter.htm
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), and breast cancer risk: pooled individual data analysis of 17 prospective studies. The Lancet Oncology, Volume 11, Issue 6, Pages 530 - 542, June 2010
Antibiotics used in meat pose a threat to public health, admits FDA. October 22, 2010 David Gutierrez
Cancer Prevention Coalition
Hormone Thought to Slow Aging Associated With Increased Risk of Cancer Death: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100301091417.htm. March 10, 2010.
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