The company says these fast-growing fish take pressure off wild fisheries and have fewer environmental impacts than regular farmed fish. AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish called the fish a “game changer” that will provide consumers with access to an affordable and sustainable way to get fish without harming the environment. It’s the first genetically modified animal to be approved for human consumption.
Consumer and environmental groups have spoken out against the FDA’s decision, and some have even said they plan to sue the FDA to block its approval of the salmon. Typical Atlantic salmon produce the growth hormone for only part of the year.
“Consumers deserve to know what type of food they’re buying – and an overwhelming majority has told us that they want genetically modified food labeled in poll after poll”.
Critics have labelled the GM salmon “frankenfish” and warned it could cause human allergies and may lead to the decimation of the natural salmon population if it escapes into the wild.
Meanwhile, the FDA, after conducting an exhaustive and rigorous scientific review, had arrived at the decision that AquAdvantage salmon was safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious. Several major chains-such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s-have already pledged not to sell genetically modified salmon.
“In the case of the AquAdvantage Salmon, the FDA did not find any such differences”, it said.
The agency would prefer labels saying something like “Not bioengineered” or “This oil is made from soybeans that were not genetically engineered”.
The fish is called AquaAdvantage Salmon and was created to grow faster using AquaBounty Technologies.
The salmon was produced by inserting a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon, as well as a gene from the ocean pout, which make the animal grow faster.
The FDA mandates that the fish may be raised only in land-based, contained hatchery tanks in two specific facilities in Canada and Panama.
Both facilities have multiple, redundant physical barriers to keep the fish and eggs from escaping, the agency noted.
In Thursday’s approval announcement, the FDA said the nutritional profile of the genetically modified AquAdvantage Salmon has no biologically relevant differences to the other Atlantic salmon that are farm-raised. The agency said the Canadian government will also be conducting inspections.