AquaBounty stalwart Stotish retires after winning US fight
Dr Ron Stotish, the former chief executive of transgenic salmon producer AquaBounty is to retire at the end of June after 13 years with the Massachusetts-based company.
AquaBounty announced in November last year that Stotish would be replaced as CEO by experienced food industry executive Sylvia Wulf from January 1, 2019.
Stotish, 69, has remained with AquaBounty as executive director with responsibility for research and regulatory affairs but recently told the company he would not stand for re-election to the board of directors.
His decision to retire – announced in a report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission - follows the recent lifting of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Import Alert that was the final barrier preventing the sale of AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage Salmon in the United States. Stotish had led the company’s regulatory efforts to obtain approval of AquAdvantage salmon in Canada and the US.
The FDA’s decision last month will allow AquaBounty – which is majority-owned by another US genetic engineering company, Intrexon – access to both a larger market and greater production volume.
Until now the company has been growing relatively small amounts of GE salmon in an on-land farm in Panama and selling it in Canada, the only country it was allowed to sell the fish until the FDA gave it the green light for the US. Last year it completed a second harvest in Panama and sold five tonnes as fillets in Canada.
AquaBounty can now import GE salmon eggs to a larger RAS facility in Indiana and sell its fish in the US, something which should make a big difference to its bottom line. The company’s limited production and sales, allied to continuing investment, means it has racked up losses of more than $37 million over the past three years.
Product revenues for 2018 were $84,518, while costs and expenses totalled $10,450,314 – a loss of $10,365,796.
AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with a growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific chinook salmon – with a promoter from an ocean pout – added.
This gene enables it to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer. The fish grows to market size in 16 to 18 months rather than three years.
AquAdvantage salmon are only grown on land-based farms, to prevent any possibility of escape into the wild.