FDA Approves GMO Salmon for U.S. Distribution

GMO Salmon is coming to the U.S.
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FDA Approves GMO Salmon for U.S. Distribution

The genetically modified salmon produced by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. under the AquAdvantage label will begin farming in Indiana, the company said in a press release earlier this week.

“We are delighted that FDA has lifted the import alert, which will allow AquaBounty to begin producing and marketing AquAdvantage Salmon in the United States," said Sylvia Wulf, Chief Executive Officer of AquaBounty. "As FDA notes in this announcement, our salmon was approved by the agency over three years ago based upon a very comprehensive science-based review process, which established that our salmon was safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound and met all other regulatory requirements. We will immediately start the process to import AquAdvantage eggs from our hatchery in Canada to begin grow out at our Indiana facility.”

The salmon is engineered with genes from other fish species -- a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout -- intended to help it reach market weight faster than other farmed or wild-caught salmon.

Aqua Bounty first sought FDA approval of the salmon in the early 2000s but by 2012 still had no approval to raise or sell into the U.S. market. The approval marks the first genetically modified animal product approved for sale. The fish eggs are produced in Canadian hatcheries and then shipped to fish farms in Panama before heading to market.

But sale of the fish in the U.S. had been met with strong resistance; a number of retailers including Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target, Safeway, and Kroger, all said they would not stock the controversial fish in stores. 

AquaBounty sees opportunity though, despite the retail resistance.

"The United States has been a world leader in biotechnology and food innovation, and [the FDA's] decision helps to advance the Company’s leadership in this critical space," the company said in a statement. "This decision is an important achievement not just for AquaBounty, but for biotechnology and agricultural innovation in general. As both FDA and USDA have recognized, animal and plant biotechnology enable the development of innovative and transformational products that have the potential to increase sustainable production of food, enhance human nutrition, and help feed a rapidly growing global population."

With FDA approval AquaBounty expects to begin farming its fish in Indiana "immediately."

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