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Company says FDA is nearing decision on genetically engineered Atlantic salmon

"All have been reviewed by the FDA," said Giddings, who also worked for a leading biotech industry group. "There is no greater risk from eating transgenic crops than eating non-transgenic crops."

AquaBounty officials weren't available for comment, but the company's publicist referred calls to Giddings.

Giddings said that he hasn't eaten a transgenic salmon but that people he has talked to who have attended AquaBounty fish fries said they taste just like non-transgenic fish. He dismisses health safety concerns and fears that the fish could pose a threat to native stocks.

"Transgenic foods are subjected to more scrutiny than any other food in history," he said.

However, critics say that there are no guarantees that the transgenic salmon would be raised in contained, inland pens, and that claims of sterility can be overblown. The company says 99 percent of the transgenic fish will be sterile, a level that meets FDA requirements.

"I hope that's true," said Eric Hoffman, who works on genetic technology policy for Friends of the Earth.

FDA regulations don't specifically address whether transgenic food is safe for public health and the environment, Hoffman said, and the approval process is so closed it's impossible to tell whether fish raised from AquaBounty's eggs will have to be labeled as transgenic. Products made from transgenic crops in the United States don't have to carry a special label.

"This is all about corporate profit and not public health," Hoffman said.

-- McClatchy Newspapers

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