Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Science | By Cecil Little

Genetically engineered salmon approved to be on the market

Genetically engineered salmon approved to be on the market

Congress in 2016 directed the FDA not to allow food into the US that contained genetically engineered salmon until the agency implemented superior labeling guidelines for informing people that certain foods contained the altered salmon.

The United States Food & Drug Administration, (FDA), has reportedly announced that the administration has lifted the import alert that was imposed on genetically engineered (GE) AquAdvantage salmon eggs developed by biotechnology firm, AquaBounty Technologies.

Congress said rules on how genetically modified food is labeled had to be implemented first.

"With the deactivation of the import alert, AquAdvantage Salmon eggs can now be imported to the company's contained grow-out facility in IN to be raised into salmon for food".

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After FDA approved Aquabounty salmon for human consumption in 2015, Congress in 2016 directed the FDA not to allow into commerce any food that contains GE salmon until it issued final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of the GE salmon content in the food.

In its 2015 finding, the FDA said the salmon is safe to eat and the genetic material added to the fish's genome is safe for the animal.

- US regulators on Friday gave the green light to salmon genetically modified to grow about twice as fast as normal. "Therefore, the FDA is deactivating the import alert that prevented food from AquAdvantage Salmon, including salmon eggs used to grow the fish, from entering the US", the Agency wrote. AquaBounty figured out a way to use a growth hormone-regulating gene from Pacific Chinook salmon, along with a promoter gene from ocean pout, an eel-like marine animal, in order to grow genetically modified Atlantic salmon year-round instead of only during the spring and summer.

As the Associated Press reported, however, a "coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups" filed a lawsuit asking for the FDA's approval of the fish to be overturned.

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The FDA had concluded the GE salmon was safe in 2015.

Reports cite, the move would allow the fish to reach the United States approximately three years after obtaining the initial approval.

"Additionally, as part of its approval, the FDA also analyzed the potential environmental impact that an approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon application would have on the US environment and published its final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact in November 2015". The original NADA only specified AquaBounty's facility on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the salmon eggs are produced, and the company's grow-out facility in Panama. Aquabounty chief Sylvia Wulf told the AP she expected certification for an IN growing facility IN "weeks" and could receive eggs soon afterward, but it would take about 18 months for the salmon to reach their target weight.

But Kimbrell, of the Center for Food Safety, said the company's own tests have shown it's not 100 percent certain the fish would be sterile, and that concerns about it getting in the environment would grow if the company's operations were to expand.

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In a statement to FOX Business, AquaBounty said if all goes well, it plans to have its first harvest by the Fall of 2020.

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