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AquaBounty takes the slow road as it awaits the future

AquaBounty's salmon reach market size in half the time, making on-land production more viable. Photo: AquaBounty
AquaBounty's salmon reach market size in half the time, making on-land production more viable. Photo: AquaBounty

Transgenic salmon grower AquaBounty has stocked its on-land farm in Indiana with traditional salmon eggs while it awaits approval to import eggs for its genetically modified AquAdvantage fish into the United States.

The information was included in AquaBounty’s half-year results, in which the company also revealed that its net loss for the six-month period ended June 30 increased to $5.2 million from $4.1m in the corresponding period in 2017.

AquaBounty said the loss reflected pre-production costs at the Indiana farm and research and development activities at its Rollo Bay hatchery on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Advantage of speed

AquAdvantage salmon have a growth-hormone gene from chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), along with genetic regulatory elements from a third species, the ocean pout (Zoarces americanus). The genetic modifications enable the salmon to produce a continuous low level of growth hormone.

Ron Stotish: Expects import alert to be lifted this year.
Ron Stotish: Expects import alert to be lifted this year.

During the first half of 2018, the company also completed the sale of its second batch of AquAdvantage salmon from its farm in Panama.

‘Import Alert’

AquaBounty previously announced that it had received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to raise AquAdvantage salmon at its on-land farm near Albany, Indiana. But the company is currently prevented from importing AquAdvantage eggs from Canada due to the existence of an “Import Alert” pending the FDA’s issuance of final labelling guidance for the product.  

AquAdvantage salmon are sold without a distinguishing GM label in Canada but the company has indicated that it is fully prepared to comply with US labelling requirements for its product in order for the process to conclude in the near term. In the interim, it has commenced grow-out of non-GM salmon on Indiana.

AquaBounty chief executive Ronald Stotish said: “This stocking has allowed us to start operations at the facility, while we wait for the lifting of the import alert on AquAdvantage Salmon, which we anticipate in the second half of the year.”

AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon that has been bioengineered to grow to market size in about half the time of a traditional farmed Atlantic salmon. It improves the economics of producing salmon in land-based contained facilities.

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