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AquaBounty in Chinese talks in bid to fast-track transgenic salmon production

The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with a growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon added.
The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with a growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon added.

Transgenic salmon farmer AquaBounty is said to be speaking to Chinese aquaculture companies in a bid to fast-track production of the fish around the world.

AquaBounty chief executive Ron Stotish
AquaBounty chief executive Ron Stotish

Having recently obtained US Food & Drug Administration approval to raise its AquAdvantage salmon at its $14 million land-based contained facility in Indiana, the company is seeking to create a network of partnerships in which AquaBounty supplies both genetics and technical support to grow its fish.

“They can’t take our intellectual property because the IP is in the broodstock and the broodstock won’t be imported, they can only really grow it,” AquaBounty chief executive Ron Stotish told Undercurrent News. “We’ve had a number of people who are very interested.”

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The 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.

In May the company posted a net loss of $2.4 million for the first quarter of 2018, up from $2.1m in the corresponding period last year.

Having fresh food closer to consumers should be in everyone’s interests

Ron Stotish

Canada has also approved AquAdvantage salmon, but the company would need to get approvals for key markets such as China if it were to expand globally. It is still focused on the US market because most salmon is imported and there is growing appetite for locally grown produce.

“Having fresh food closer to consumers should be in everyone’s interests,” Stotish was quoted as saying. “Once people can see what a great product this is, all this won’t be an issue any more.”

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