THE word’s first genetically modified salmon can now be farmed in the US, following a decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift its final restrictions.
AquaBounty Technologies, which is based in Prince Edward Island, Canada, described the decision as a milestone for its AquaAdvantage salmon. The company can now go ahead with its farming operations at a land based RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) grow-out facility in Indiana.
Sylvia Wulf, CEO of AquaBounty, said: ‘We will immediately start the process to import AquAdvantage eggs from our hatchery in Canada to begin grow out at our Indiana facility.
‘As FDA notes in this announcement, our salmon was approved by the agency over three years ago based upon a very comprehensive science based review process, which established that our salmon was safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound and met all other regulatory requirements.’
The decision involves deactivating a 2016 import alert over labelling that prevented GE salmon from entering the US.
The FDA said in a statement: ‘This fish is safe to eat, the genetic construct added to the fish’s genome is safe for the animal, and the manufacturer’s claim that it reaches a growth marker important to the aquaculture industry more rapidly than its non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon counterpart is confirmed.’
The agency added that, based on ‘the multiple forms of physical and biological environmental containment measures proposed by the company’, AquAdvantage salmon would not cause a significant impact on the US environment.
Approximately 350,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon are consumed in the US, more than 95 per cent imported, and it is hoped that production of AquaAdvantage salmon will reduce dependence on seafood imports.
AuqaBounty, which has been developing its technology for more than 20 years, has produced small amounts of salmon in Panama and Canada, where the broodstock are reared.
The farm in Indiana has been used to grow conventional Atlantic salmon, to prepare the site for the AquaAdvantage product.
The transgenic fish – engineered from chinook and Atlantic salmon genes – require 20 to 25 per cent less feed than regular farmed Atlantic salmon, said the company.
Canadian supermarkets have been selling the GM salmon since last year, and former CEO Ron Sottish said ‘the people who bought our fish were very happy with it’.
Picture: Sylvia Wulf, CEO of AquaBounty Technologies