AquaBounty confident approval will hold

AquaBounty remains confident that FDA approval for its genetically engineered salmon strain will stand up against legal action, as the company has participated in one of the most transparent and rigorous regulatory reviews in history.

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An announcement was made today that a coalition of NGO’s has sued the US FDA for their approval of AquAdvantage salmon.

The coalition, including well-known critics of genetic engineering - the Centre for Food Safety, and Friends of the Earth - claims that the agency failed to analyze and prevent the risks to wild salmon and the environment, including the risk that GE salmon could escape and threaten endangered wild salmon stocks.

However, integral for the approval process for the GE salmon, was ensuring there was no chance the fish could escape.

Containment is something the company is very serious about - they have been operating over the past 20+ years without a single escaped fish.

The fish are raised in tanks isolated from the environment by multiple and redundant measures such as physical, chemical, and biological barriers. Sterilization (all fish are triploid females, containing three sets of DNA instead of the usual two) ensures the fish cannot reproduce. Physical containment at the egg and fish production facilities will provide multiple layers of security. These include on-facility living quarters for security personnel, security cameras, and 8’ chain link fencing around each property. Numerous filters, nets and other physical barriers reduce the likelihood of escape to less than 1%, and even if they did, the all-female population of salmon is sterile and are unable to reproduce. Furthermore, at the hatchery on PEI, chlorine is used in the drainage areas to kill eggs that may have escaped filters.

The CEO of AquaBounty Technologies, Ron Stotish, has questioned the legitimacy of the lawsuit, saying in a press release that “AquaBounty is confident that the approval will stand, and that the FDA has been extraordinarily thorough and transparent in the review and approval of our application.”