A recent decision by federal authorities may mean that if you want guaranteed natural salmon, you may just have to pick up your fishing rod.

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved genetically engineered Atlantic salmon for human consumption, making it the first time that the FDA has granted approval to a genetically modified animal intended for food in the United States.

According to the agency, the approval was granted specifically to the salmon produced by biotech company AquaBounty Technologies, which grows at approximately twice the speed of regular farm-raised salmon.

“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,” said Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The FDA further stated that the genetic modifications did not appear to have a detrimental effect on the salmon and that the fish is just as nutritious as other farm-raised salmon.

The AquAdvantage salmon has an extra growth hormone taken from Pacific Chinook. The result of this is that on average, an AquAdvantage salmon will grow twice as fast as unaltered Atlantic salmon, making it much easier to produce.

AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish called the fish a “game changer” that will provide consumers with access to an affordable and sustainable way to get fish without harming the environment.

“The U.S. currently imports over 90% of all the seafood, and more specifically over 95% of the Atlantic salmon, it consumes,” AquaBounty stated in a press release. “AquAdvantage Salmon will offer the opportunity for an economically viable domestic aquaculture industry while providing consumers a fresh and delicious product.”

The salmon will not be produced on US soil. The FDA has specifically granted approval for the company to produce genetically modified salmon in only two facilities in Canada and Panama. The agency also said it will maintain regulatory oversight over the production and facilities, as well as conducting regular inspections to ensure that none of the altered fish ever escape into the ocean.

“These measures include a series of multiple and redundant levels of physical barriers placed in the tanks and in the plumbing that carries water out of the facilities to prevent the escape of eggs and fish. Finally, the AquAdvantage Salmon are reproductively sterile so that even in the highly unlikely event of an escape, they would be unable to interbreed or establish populations in the wild,” the FDA stated.

Despite all these safeguards many consumer and environmental advocacy groups opposed the Thursday decision. They say that the long-term effects of genetic modification are still poorly understood and the fish could pose a threat to both humans and the ecosystem.

“There’s no place on our dinner plates for genetically engineered fish,” Lisa Archer of Friends of the Earth told the Associated Press. “We will continue to work to ensure the market, from grocery retailers to restaurants, continues to listen to majority of consumers that don’t want to eat this poorly studied, unlabeled genetically engineered fish.”

Other groups pointed out that under current laws, manufacturers of the modified salmon are not required to label the fish differently. Although companies can voluntarily label their products as genetically modified, the lack of hard requirements means that customers can buy altered fish without knowing it. The same is true of genetically modified crops, many of which are already on the market. A number of other modified animals are awaiting approval by the FDA before they can be sold for human consumption.

Image screenshot of video by TruthEndangered on YouTube

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3 thoughts on “Salmon the First Genetically Modified Animal Approved for Human Consumption

  1. First, farmed salmon can already be unsafe to eat, even before they made into frankenfish. Second, coastal fish farming is devastating to the environment. You have only to fly over the salmon farms in BC to see that, or look at the beaches up current from them to see that. Salmon farming is not about affordable food for the masses. It is about mass production for huge profits, at the cost of consumer’s health and destruction of the local environment and natural fish populations.

    Salmon farming takes a sustainable fishery that supports thousands of families and thriving local economies in towns all up the coast, who have no other economy, and replaces it with an industry that pays low wages to foreign workers and massive profits to a few owners, without a major reduction in the cost of the fish.

    Because there is an established market for salmon, and established prices, the farmed salmon, raised for pennies, is still able to be sold at almost the price of wild-caught salmon, and is, so the only ones that profit are the few at the head of the corporations that own the farms and processing.

    I find it funny that one of the ways they justify the farming and the frankenfish is by saying that most of the Atlantic salmon consumed in the US is imported now, so they will allow frankenfish that will be farmed and, uh, IMPORTED from Canada and Central America.

    I pretty much don’t even eat Atlantic salmon anymore because it is so hard to tell if it is farmed or not. I mostly stick with Pacific salmon.

    Research the health issues related to farmed salmon, and stick with wild-caught salmon.

    1. Good points all! To tell me it will be a more affordable product is BS. THEIR PROFIT MARGIN GOES UP, PRICE STAYS THE SAME. Farmed salmon is disgusting. Greasy, fishy, mushy…… I wouldn’t buy it anyway. It is a complete farce that they don’t have to label it. That’s because they know only idiots would still buy it if they knew, greatly reducing the viability of the endeavor. They have poured millions into the development of this and millions into the FDA apparently too. Just like the big it drug companies, they will rationalize this rediculous price to ‘recoup their investment’. Hogwash! Now I will never buy salmon again!

      1. Farmed salmon is Atlantic salmon (really more like a char, I think). If you buy Pacific salmon, it will be wild-caught.
        Humpy (pink), Coho (silver), Sockeye (red), King (chinook) are all going to be wild-caught.

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