A study issued yesterday [Wednesday] by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology claims that the US government is ill equipped to judge the risks that genetically modified fish pose to the environment.

The Pew Initiative, a non-profit-making organisation, released its findings just as the US government is deciding whether to give the green light to a variety of salmon genetically manipulated to grow at double the normal rate. Waltham, Massachusetts-based Aqua Bounty Farms has sought approval to sell GM Atlantic salmon.

Pew Initiative researchers fear that these new varieties could breed with wild salmon, challenging diversity.

The study maintains that the rules covering drugs for animals, under which the Food & Drug Administration regulates such cases, are inadequate as they do not enable the agency to consider in full the environmental risks posed. Further, the Pew Initiative claims that the FDA officials lack the expertise to make this decision responsibly.

“Regulators will increasingly have to stretch their authority to make old laws and regulations address the evolving next wave of products,” Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of the Pew Initiative, said in a statement. “We seem to be treading in uncharted legal waters.”