Salmon

Garnering some of the most intense controversy over genetic modification, the Aquabounty AquAdvantage salmon—which would be the nation’s first GMO animal allowed into the food system if approved by the FDA—may have to pull the plug on the project due to dwindling cash.

The AquAdvantage salmon includes genes from another salmon variety, the Chinook, which are added to help the fish reach market size in roughly half the time as non-GMO fish—about two years versus the standard 3-4 years. The decreased growth time is estimated to save approximately 30 percent in production costs. Creating the GMO fish, according to AquaBounty, would also help to stimulate local fish production. The U.S. currently imports more than 80 percent of its seafood, which could be mitigated by the GMO fish, the company claims.

Concerns over the fish’s impact on the environment and human health risks made AquaBounty a huge target for health and environmental advocates, despite assurances from the company that the mostly sterile fish would be incapable of breeding with wild salmon in the case that they escaped the fisheries.

And even though the FDA concluded the fish was as safe as non-GMO varieties back in 2010, the agency has not yet given AquaBounty the green light on producing the salmon for human consumption.

GMOs have been seeing heightened levels of consumer concern after the marketing efforts for California’s Proposition 37 campaign, which had it not failed to pass in last month’s election, would have made the state the first in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified foods.

AquaBounty says it will run out of capital in January 2013 if it doesn’t find an investor.

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Image: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region