GMO salmon coming: Genetically Modified Salmon

Published: November 20, 2015

GMO salmon coming: Genetically Modified Salmon, The Food and Drug Administration has just approved the first-ever genetically modified animal for human consumption – an Atlantic salmon that’s engineered to grow much faster than regular salmon and require less feed.

Approval for the “AquAdvantage salmon” has been decades in the making and rife with delays. Back in 2010, the FDA determined that this salmon was just as safe to eat as conventional salmon.

But as is common with GMO foods, controversy ensued. Environmental groups and food safety activists have argued that the modified fish could conceivably cause problems, like threatening local fish populations. An expert FDA panel disagreed, arguing that the fish was “highly unlikely to cause any significant effects on the environment.”

Meanwhile, the salmon’s backers, a company named AquaBounty Technologies, have argued that their fish, which carries growth-enhancing genes from two other fish, will have all sorts of benefits. Because the salmon grows so quickly (in 18 to 24 months instead of the usual 30), it is cheaper to produce, and farms have less impact on the environment.

Now it seems the FDA agrees, approving AquAdvantage salmon for human consumption. It’s still unclear how many food manufacturers will actually sell this fish or how long it will take AquaBounty to scale up production to reach consumers. As the Center for Science in the Public Interest notes, “While today’s decision marks the first approval of a GE food animal, its impact on American consumers will be negligible. It will take months for AquaBounty to produce and export GE salmon for consumers to purchase.”

It’s also unclear whether anyone will notice. Right now any company that decides to sell AquAdvantage salmon doesn’t have to label it as such, according to the FDA. But several grocery stores have already said they won’t carry the fish – a response to an ongoing battle, with some activists pushing for consumer labels in many states and many scientists arguing that it’s completely unnecessary.

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