U.S. clears genetically modified salmon

Nov 19, 2015, 8:08 PM EST
Chinook salmon in the Clackamas River
Chinook salmon in the Clackamas River
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially declared that genetically modified salmon — a product made by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies — is as safe to consume as conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The F.D.A. has said that the product will not require special labeling because it is nutritionally equivalent to conventional farm-raised salmon, according to Reuters. The news outlet reports that AquaBounty “developed the salmon by altering its genes so that it would grow faster than farmed salmon, and expects it will take about two more years to reach consumers' plates as it works out distribution.”
 
CNN quotes Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Veterinary Medicine: 
 
"The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat."
 
The FDA's Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee took up the issue in 2010. The genetic engineering for these salmon is a combination of a growth gene from Pacific chinook salmon (to accelerate growth) and genetic material from an eel-like fish called "ocean pout" (which allow the fish to grow year round).
 
The New York Times notes that some organizations — many of them health and environmental ones — denounce this approval. Quoting Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the group Food and Water Watch:
 
“This unfortunate, historic decision disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world, who have voiced strong opposition.”
 
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