JUST over a year ago it looked as if it was only a matter of time before genetically modified salmon appeared on the dinner plates of US consumers.
But doubts are beginning to emerge whether the project will get off the ground on time because US Federal delays are creating problems for Aquabounty Technologies , the company behind the project which has just received an offer from a rival biotechnology company. The Intrexon Corporation which took a 47.6 per cent stake in the business last month.
It was in 2010 that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that Aquabounty's GM salmon was safe to eat, much to the anger of some conservation groups and wild salmon fishermen, it also said there was little likelihood of GM salmon escaping to breed with wild fish.
Last year a group of US Congress members launched a new attempt to prevent genetically engineered salmon reaching the public with a direct appeal to the FDA because they said not enough was known about the fish.
AquaBounty Technologies from Massachusetts has repeatedly given a robust defence of its work, saying it is perfectly safe for human consumption and could become a vital future source of healthy protein in an ever-hungry world. But now it is reported in the US AquaBounty is starting to run out of money.Chief executive Ron Stotish, is quoted as saying the delays are threatening the company's ability to continue with the development and said needs more cash, adding that the delays has made raising money very difficult.
Now AquaBounty says it has just received an offer from the Intrexon Corporation, a privately held biotechnology company which has also announced $500,000 in bridging finance until more equity can be raised.
The Directors of AquaBounty said they have reviewed the offer and, taking into account the company’s current situation and future outlook, the board has decided that it is not able to make a recommendation on whether or not shareholders should sell their shares.
However, Richard Clothier, Chairman, and Richard Huber, a non executive director, have said they do not intend to sell to Intrexon, as they believe that the company’s future interests were best served by continuing as a publicly traded company. Additionally, the directors added that were FDA approval to be received, the market potential for AquAdvantage Salmon and other AquaBounty products could be substantial. They also said they were still waiting to hear from the FDA.
The FDA says it's still working on the final stages of its review, and but fear a final decision could be at least a year away. There also worries that the delays could deter other American companies from similar biotechnology research.
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