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Genetically Engineered Salmon

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An FDA advisory panel has recommended that the agency approve a Massachusetts-based company’s plans to commercialize its genetically-engineered salmon, which grow to adult size nearly twice as fast as their natural-born counterparts.

[2]If the FDA follows the recommendations of the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, the modified salmon will be the first such animal to be marketed in the US.

The Committee is comprised largely of veterinary scientists. It concluded that the new salmon was safe to eat and that the process used to grow it would not pose a significant threat to the environment.

The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels. It will probably take months before deciding the matter.

Waltham-based AquaBounty has been working on its AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon for over a decade. They grow quickly because company scientists inserted genes encoding for growth hormone from both the Chinook salmon and an eel-like creature known as the ocean pout into their DNA.

The modified fish produce growth hormone year-round. Native Atlantic salmon don’t produce the stuff, and hence don’t grow, each winter. The AquAdvantage salmon end-up being sterile females, for the most part.

AquaBounty plans to grow its genetically-modified salmon in inland tanks to prevent them from interacting with native species. “The possibility of an escape or an event with any possibility to interact with the wild population is infinitesimal,” Ronald Stotish, AquaBounty’s CEO told BurrillReport [3].

By the way, the Advisory Committee suggested that the FDA monitor the environmental impact of AquaBounty’s commercial operations if they are approved, and that consumers be appraised about what they are buying. Current FDA rules ban labeling that is based exclusively on how foods are produced.