Let GM salmon swim through red tape…REALLY?

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There are not many news articles in my local papers that solicit as visceral a reaction as this one did from me recently. The title leapt at me – this nearly full-page, basically one-sided argument (the link here takes you to the article reproduced on the AsiaOne site) to suggest that we should allow genetically engineered salmon into our food supply and that it’s ‘safe’. Really? On which planet?

Upon reading the entire piece on Feb 24th, I felt rather enraged and sat down to write my response to this. I emailed it straightaway that morning (hey, I gave up my usual Sunday morning run for this!), hoping that if I met the 12noon deadline, it may get published the next day. Alas, not. New budget news were announced last week…which got everyone worried about cost of cars and wage credits. So, I have been biding my time since then (a 5-day moratorium is what the Straits Times asked for before I can publish this anywhere else).

So here it is, my Response to the Sunday Times about this issue.  This is the full, unedited version. And you know what’s worrying? When I googled this morning to find a link I could use on this post about the original article, there were already about 6 other news and health websites which have regurgitated this article for their readers!

Don't think any fish would wish to be genetically altered...

Don’t think any fish would wish to be genetically altered…

(Sorry, I don’t have any images of salmon in my personal library – so here’s one of some happy koi
from the pond where I live…it will have to do for now!)

The FDA was expected to rule on this issue last week but I have not been able to find any news updates about it yet, so maybe there’s been a delay. Do comment and let me know if you stumble upon an update about this. I will continue tracking.

I want to know where my food comes from, don’t you? We need to keep asking and pushing for transparency from the authorities, and be the consumer who cares!

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2 responses

  1. HI Sally it’s Faizah – came across this post on your blog by accident! Thought you might like to know that I raised this issue in Parliament during the Budget Debate two weeks ago. I addressed the issue to MND under the heading ‘Food Security’ and specifically asked that given the genuine scientific concerns to health and environment of GM food, if Singapore would follow the US lead should FDA approve the application, and if so, would they label it so that consumers have a choice. I also asked for an update on the work by the GM Advisory Committee on Food Labelling as a follow up to a question I raised in Parliament on labelling of GM food last October ( when the answer was, in gist, that since there is no international requirement for labelling and since Singapore always follow international standards, there will be no labelling for the moment!)

    The response from the Senior Minister of State this time was also less than satisfactory – see the relevant excerpt below- it’s a mere one -line which does not say answer the question. Full speech at http://app.mnd.gov.sg/Newsroom/NewsPage.aspx?ID=4311&category=Speech&year=2013&RA1&RA2&RA3

    You might also like to know that at a talk in NUS that I attended early last year Minister for MEWR (and at other occasions as well!) said that we cannot NOT have GM food in Singapore as technology is the only way to go to feed the world!

    Excerpt from Snr Min of State Maliki Osman’s response –
    “Food safety

    29. Even as we open up our new food sources, we must ensure that imports do not carry food safety risks or diseases. AVA has a rigorous food safety system that takes care of food safety from “farm to fork”. It consists of overseas source accreditation, certification, inspection and testing of imports upon arrival in Singapore, a traceability system, and consumer education efforts on food safety. AVA also ensures the safety of Genetically Modified (or GM) foods through risk assessments before they are allowed into Singapore.

    30. Ultimately, the Government, industry and general public must play our parts so that we can continue to enjoy that peace of mind when we tuck in to our favourite food.”

    So there you go.

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    • Hi dear friend! Long time 🙂

      I am so glad there are people in our parliament who cares about this! I think this is one area about our collective health that governments around the world need to pay attention to with a conscience for humanity, instead of listening only to those with vested interests. Perhaps we can connect offline again soon to catch up?

      Sally xx

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