A rural Indiana fish farm is one step closer to getting genetically engineered salmon to store shelves. The company is harvesting its first batch of Atlantic salmon helping prepare for its inaugural GMO fish production later this year.
AquaBounty Technologies’s land-based facility in Albany, Indiana, began producing non-GMO Atlantic salmon while waiting for federal permission to import the genetically engineered eggs into the country.
This week Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick is joined by Mark Walton, Chief Technology Officer, AquaBounty.
Between 80 and 90-percent of fish consumed in the United States is imported and most of that is a product of aquaculture, otherwise known as fish farming. On this week’s episode of the podcast, Gerry Dick with Inside Indiana Business is joined by Mark Walton, Chief Technology Officer at AquaBounty Technologies. Based in Maynard, Massachusetts, the company also has a production facility in Albany, Indiana.
Mark talks innovation as key to their mission and AquaBounty’s opportunity to provide an abundant supply of fresh, reliable salmon using a smaller footprint. Setting up shop in locations like Indiana are critical, too, as they allow for a quick turn on harvest and delivery to many major U.S. population centers. There is growth ahead for AquaBounty – find out if Indiana is on their radar.
The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) today published its annual Sustainability Report, which documents the environmental performance and nutritional profile of farm-raised salmon. As part of the group’s efforts to drive improvements in the sustainability performance of the global fish-farming industry, the report provides a breakdown of 15 key sustainability metrics per member company and per region – documenting progress and improving industry transparency.
“We have to address the question of how we are going to feed the world a healthy diet, without further compromising the health of the planet. Aquaculture is the fastest growing global food sector, and as such we felt it was important to document the contribution farmed salmon can make to healthy, sustainable diets,” commented Sophie Ryan, GSI CEO. “Within this report, we have outlined the environmental performance and nutritional content of farm-raised salmon, allowing people to make informed choices based on up-to-date information, as well as showing where and how we plan to make further progress.” Read the article.
Climate patterns across various ocean regions have impacted the production, survival, and performance of fish, fisheries, and aquaculture – which in turn directly impacts the populations that rely on the resource for a living.
A new report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in partnership with French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD France), says the events of El Niño and La Niña – which are recurring climate patterns made of warm and cool phases across the tropical Pacific, popularly known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – “generally worsen the effects of climate change on fish, fisheries and aquaculture.” Read the article.
A number of companies have expressed support for the United State’s move to strengthen the country’s aquaculture industry.
Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order which aims to improve the the competitiveness of the industry that has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move was meant to “ensure food security; provide environmentally safe and sustainable seafood; support American workers; ensure coordinated, predictable, and transparent Federal actions; and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens.”
The U.S. seafood sector has an estimated $15 billion trade deficit.
To address this issue, the government has designated the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be the lead agency for aquaculture projects. Read the article.
Global pandemic shining light on land-based aquaculture
If there is one insight to be gleaned from the global pandemic that has rocked the world this year, it is the need to strengthen domestic, sustainable food production.
Fish and fish products are the most heavily traded products in the world, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. China is the largest exporter and third largest importer of seafood globally. The U.S. imports 80 percent of its total seafood.
Undoubtedly, international travel restrictions have resulted in significant reduction in the number of cross-border flights, making a huge dent on seafood import and export – both from the supply and demand side. This has re-ignited the call for strengthening domestic food production and reducing reliance on imports. Read the article.
Amidst the human tragedy and media storm that is the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that persistent threats to human health and well-being that pre-existed the COVID-19 still remain.
Hunger and malnutrition, constantly simmering threats that only rarely get the attention of the pandemic de jour, kill and harm far more people every year than the coronavirus. This is worth remembering as the world recovers from the coronavirus crisis and life returns to a semblance of normality.
Whatever the new normal will be, we should sustain and increase efforts to reduce premature mortality from starvation and the effects of malnourishment, which often retard normal bodily and mental development, limiting the ability of millions of people to flourish each and every year. Read the article.
Forward-thinking fish farmers are growing world-class salmon in the heart of the Midwest
As the most-consumed type of fish in the United States, salmon is an incredibly important—and uniquely healthy—source of protein. But while wild-caught Pacific salmon remains plentiful in the Northwest, fish farms provide 100 percent of the country’s supply of the long-endangered Atlantic salmon. Located in places like Chile and Norway, these traditional offshore aquaculture businesses grow plenty of fish, but come with their own challenges, from disease and pollution to the high cost of bringing them to market.
Yet a new, more environmentally friendly way of salmon production is emerging. Today’s most innovative fish farmers are giving the ocean a pass altogether and raising Atlantic salmon in freshwater tanks miles from the nearest ocean—bringing them closer than ever to consumers. Read the article.
Glow-in-the-dark mice, silk-producing goats, venomous cabbage — these are all wacky and downright unsettling examples of what can happen when scientists tinker with DNA. They’re also part of the reason that the public and scientific debates about genetically modified organisms — known as GMOs — persist.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new education initiative called “Feed Your Mind” to help consumers better understand genetically engineered foods, commonly called GMOs or genetically modified organisms.
The initiative was developed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide consumers with science-based educational information to better understand how GMOs are made, learn more about the types of crops that have been modified, address questions they may have about the health and safety of GMOs as well as explain how GMOs are regulated in the U.S.
“Feed Your Mind” features a wide range of resources designed specifically for consumers, health care professionals and students. These materials feature new web content, fact-sheets and videos using common language, engaging graphics and stories to provide information about genetically engineered foods, including information about the history of genetic modifications in agriculture. This initiative is an on-going effort, with additional materials such as a professional learning series for dietitians and supplementary science curriculum for high schools planned for release later in 2020 and 2021.
“Feed Your Mind” materials are based on extensive formative research. To guide development of the initiative, FDA, UDSA and EPA:
Sought input from stakeholders through two public meetings;
Opened a docket to receive public comments;
Conducted more than 40 focus groups selected to represent the diverse backgrounds of consumers around the country; and
Consulted experts in agricultural biotechnology, education and communication.
Funding for “Feed Your Mind” was provided by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 as the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative to provide consumers science-based educational information on the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic, and humanitarian impacts of foods derived from agricultural biotechnology techniques, such as genetic engineering.
Mitch Daniels, a Post contributing columnist, is president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana.
What should one make of the following set of facts? A federal government, urged on by self-designated advocates for the “public interest,” blocks for a quarter of a century the availability of an irrefutably safe product that would improve Americans’ health, lower consumer costs and deliver a host of environmental benefits. Sound fishy? You’re right.
For about three decades, science has known how to genetically modify salmon so the fish can be safely and economically raised anywhere, not just in the seaside pens that have long been the only alternative to the continuing depletion of the world’s ocean stocks. Scientists worldwide have attested for over a decade, without credible opposition, to the safety of these fish and their essential indistinguishability from other salmon. But only in March last year was this long-stalled technology released from regulatory purgatory by the Food and Drug Administration and cleared for operation in the United States.
Consider the advantages we have been forgoing. Salmon is a healthy food, strongly recommended by the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic and, ironically, the federal government’s own nutritional guidelines for at least the past 20 years. Consumers aware of its heart-friendly qualities increasingly seek out salmon — consumption is rising rapidly, leading to overfishing of wild populations, and the knock-on overfishing of other species taken for the up to five pounds of fish meal necessary to grow one non-genetically engineered salmon in today’s coastal farms. (Some scientists believe the world’s natural supply has hit “peak fish,” with more than 90 percent of stocks having no capacity for more production.) Read the article.
This is part 2 of a 1, 2, 3 part series on Genetic Engineering in Livestock
When AquaBounty sought to commercialize the first transgenic food animal in the mid 1990s (first produced in 1989), there was no official regulatory approach in place. Former CEO of AquaBounty technologies Dr. Ron Stotish in a 2012 abstract entitled “AquAdvantage salmon: pioneer or pyrrhic victory” (Transgenic Research 21: 913-914) wrote :
“AquaBounty consulted FDA and other government agencies in hopes of identifying a regulatory process that could be employed to review and approve the AquAdvantage salmon for food use in the United States. AquaBounty established an Investigational New Animal Drug [INAD] file with the Center for Veterinary Medicine in 1995, well in advance of any clear regulatory paradigm. Between 1995 and 2009, the sponsor [AquaBounty] conducted a variety of GLP studies aimed at meeting what was hoped to be the eventual regulatory requirement for an application of this nature. Although there was informal consultation and communication between the sponsor and CVM staff during this time, it was not until 2009 that CVM [FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine] released Guidance Document 187, codifying requirements for consideration of an application for a transgenic animal.”
This 2009 Guidance Document 187 was entitled “Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs”. The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), defines a drug as an “article intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals;” and “articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals.” A “New Animal Drug includes a drug intended for use in animals that is not generally recognized as safe and effective for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the drug’s labeling, and that has not been used to a material extent or for a material time.” Using this definition the FDA considered the “regulated” article to be “the rDNA construct in a GE animal that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body of the GE animal, regardless of the intended use of products that may be produced by the GE animal.” Read the article.
In a report for investors, it wrote that it intended to significantly scale operations and expand its existing production facility. It also had its eye on a “new large plant build-out in the US, Canada, and internationally utilising project-based finance and potential JV partners”.
The AquAdvantage USP is that it can grow faster, and AquaBounty says that its faster growth to harvest accelerates ROI in farm operations – which it says delivers 2x vs. conventional RAS salmon. Read the article.
The exasperation with salmon farming in Canada is that its future is in the hands of scheming government politicians and bureaucrats. One suspects those Ottawa folks are well-acquainted with anti-fish farming lobbyists and green ideology fanatics but probably have never met actual fish farming industry workers whose families depend on the viability of that business. That sort of situation is all too familiar to Albertans dependent on the energy industry. If only common sense could prevail for both industries, but alas, so-called progressive governments seem to get more satisfaction out of catering to politically correct causes than the livelihoods of ordinary working folks in places far from Ottawa. Read the article.
World’s first bioengineered animal approved as food has Memorial roots
It’s been a long and winding road to bring the life’s work of a Faculty of Science researcher from an experiment in a lab to the kitchen table.
Dr. Garth Fletcher, head of the Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, along with Dr. Choy Hew, a former Department of Biochemistry researcher, co-invented the technology behind the world’s first bio-engineered animal approved for human consumption.
Although it was approved as food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015, it will finally reach American customers for the first time late this year.
That’s when AquaBounty Technologies, which sells the transgenic salmon under the brand name AquAdvantage, will harvest its first salmonid raised in the U.S. and intended for sale there. In Canada, the salmon has been sold in stores since 2017. Read the article.
Transgenic-salmon grower AquaBounty has commenced a public offering of $10 million of shares in the company.
The Massachusetts-headquartered firm said it also expects to grant the underwriter of the offering a 45-day option to purchase up to an additional $1.5m of shares to cover over-allotments.
AquaBounty has previously outlined its intention to raise a net sum of $9.2m from the $10m share sale.
Harvesting in Q2
It intends to use $2m of funds raised to continue construction and renovation of its 1,200-tonne-per-annum on-land farm at Albany in Indiana and 250-tonne farm at Rollo Bay on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Another £2m will be used for working capital costs associated with the continued grow-out of the first batches of fish now being raised at those farms, and the balance will be used for general corporate purposes.
AquaBounty expects it will begin harvesting fish at the Indiana farm in the second quarter of this year, and those at Rollo Bay in the fourth quarter. The company’s AquAdvantage salmon grow more quickly than conventional Atlantic salmon and require less feed. Read the article.
AquaBounty has announced plans to produce 50,000 tonnes of transgenic salmon annually by 2027 as it bids to raise $9.2 million from investors.
Outlining the company’s goals in a bid to attract investment the company revealed a “near-term business plan… to construct and operate four to five new, land-based RAS farms in North America at locations close to consumer consumption” at the cost of $75 million to $100 million per farm.
The company has a long way to go – its current locations in Rollo Bay, Prince Edward Island and Indiana have the capacity to produce 250 tonnes and 1,200 tonnes respectively. The first harvests from these facilities are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the second quarter of 2020 respectively. Read the article.
Transgenic-salmon grower AquaBounty has outlined ambitious expansion plans as it seeks to raise a further $9.2 million from investors.
These include construction of four to five new farms in North America, each costing between $75m to $100m, at sites close to consumer consumption over the next several years.
Additionally, the company is pursuing regulatory approval for AquAdvantage Salmon in Argentina, Brazil, China, and Israel. If and when approved in these locations, AquaBounty plans to commercialise through a combination of partnerships, joint ventures, and licensing arrangements.
$2.66 per share
The Massachusetts company raised $7.5m in a share sale in March last year following the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to allow the company to grow and sell its genetically-engineered AquAdvantage salmon in the United States, and followed that in April with a second offer which raised another $5.75m. Shares were offered at $2.25 on each occasion.
AquaBounty, whose fish grow more quickly and use less feed than conventional farmed Atlantic salmon, is now offering more shares at an assumed price of $2.66 per share, which was the closing sale price of its common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market on January 14.
In its prospectus for the share offer, AquaBounty said it intends to use $2m of funds raised to continue construction and renovation of its 1,200-tonne on-land farm at Albany in Indiana and 250-tonne farm at Rollo Bay on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Read the article.
At the Future of Food Forum in Gainesville, Florida, on 15 January, seafood industry insiders contended that there will not be enough wild fish to feed the global population in the future. As a result, innovative aquaculture producers are needed to develop sustainable, environmentally-friendly methods to produce greater quantities of fish.
At the event, hosted by the University of Florida’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, Christina Espejo, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.-based Atlantic Sapphire’s head of human resources and environmental social action plan (ESAP), said her company was expanding to meet rising consumer interest in salmon.
“There is a growth in demand in consumption of salmon … It is aquaculture that is innovating and coming up with new ways to supply that demand,” Espejo said.
Espejo and AquaBounty President and CEO Sylvia Wulf revealed how the aquaculture firms are producing farmed salmon in a habitat similar to its natural environment – without utilizing antibiotics.
“We can’t harvest enough wild caught fish to be able to meet that seafood consumption. Ocean aquaculture has its challenges [including], we are not gaining more licenses. We need wild caught and ocean pen and creating a different way of farming fish, on land in tanks – what AquaBounty and Atlantic Sapphire are doing,” she said. “I believe that biotechnology is one of the tools we have to embrace to solve global challenges.”
Wulf named world hunger and climate change as two of the most pressing issues that biotechnology can help solve. Read the article.