To celebrate the anniversary of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of our AquAdvantage Salmon for commercial production and consumption, we are posting a series of articles that have appeared over the past year and prior. The following article by Rachel Becker appeared in National Geographic’s The Plate.
There’s a new fish in town—but not everyone’s ready to make room on their plates for it.
Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for human consumption. The animal is the AquAdvantage salmon, an Atlantic salmon modified to contain a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon, turned on by a chunk of DNA from another fish called the ocean pout. These modifications let the AquAdvantage salmon reach adult size far before conventional salmon do.
Already, the FDA’s decision has been challenged by groups like the Center for Food Safety, which issued a statement Thursday that it intends to sue the FDA, and the Canadian organization Ecology Action Centre, which went to court on Tuesday to argue against Canada’s approval of the fish.
This isn’t a sudden decision, though. AquaBounty, a small biotech company based in Maynard, Massachusetts, and Fortune, Prince Edward Island, has been working on the salmon since 1989, according to its website. They went to FDA about starting to develop AquAdvantage Salmon in 1995. Their argument? The U.S. imports 90 percent of its seafood, and fishing in the wild is unsustainable in the long run. We have to find ways to feed the planet.
So why has this approval process taken so long? Read the article.