FDA approves GM salmon

USA: Aquabounty Technologies announced yesterday that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved their new animal drug application for the production, sale, and consumption of its Aquadvantage salmon, an Atlantic salmon that has been genetically enhanced to reach market size in less time than conventional farmed Atlantic salmon.

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After five years of analysis, evaluation and debate, the FDA has approved the first Genetically Modified (GM) animal to be sold in the US. However, the salmon cannot be grown in the U.S., the FDA said. Likewise, companies can voluntarily label the salmon as GM, but they don't have to, the FDA added.

Ronald L. Stotish, Ph.D., CEO of Aquabounty, commented that “Aquadvantage Salmon is a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats. Using land-based aquaculture systems, this rich source of protein and other nutrients can be farmed close to major consumer markets in a more sustainable manner.”

The US currently imports over 90% of all the seafood, and more specifically over 95% of the Atlantic salmon, it consumes, while Aquadvantage salmon will offer the opportunity for an economically viable domestic aquaculture industry while providing consumers a fresh and delicious product, said the company.

Likewise, Aquabounty said that through greater efficiency and localized production, Aquadvantage salmon increases productivity while reducing costs and the environmental impacts associated with current salmon farming operations. “Land-based aquaculture systems can provide a continuous supply of fresh, safe, traceable, and sustainable Aquadvantage salmon to communities across the US and do it with a reduced carbon footprint”, the company argued, adding that it also offers an alternative approach to fish farming that does not exploit the oceans.