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Mar 8, 2018

Aquaculture America 2018: GE salmon pioneer AquaBounty laments past struggles, eyes future

Taking an audience of fish farmers and scientists through 30 years of AquaBounty Technologies’ struggle to get its genetically engineered salmon to market, Dave Conley, the firm’s communications director, sounded wistful. He took the audience through the long development and approval path for its faster-growing AquAdvantage salmon from the company’s 1995 application before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to its 2015 approval. “If you look at the opportunities lost over those 20 years AquaBounty could have done some really innovative stuff instead of fighting battles trying to get through the court of public opinion and FDA approval,” he said. The pioneering firm, which has operations in Canada and Panama and is working on refitting the former Bell Aquaculture facility in Albany, Indiana, burned through $80m during that period. “We had to reduce our staff. We had to focus our attention of what was priority and what wasn’t,” he said. “We had to landfill 62 tons of perfectly good salmon that we couldn’t even give away to a food bank because of what the activists would do to us.” The firm, which sold some salmon in Canada last year, still faces challenges on US GMO labeling laws and the hurdle of consumer acceptance, which Conley believes will come, someday. I think consumers are going to eat the salmon and they are going to like it and we are going to move past what we’ve been suffering the past 25 years,” he said.  Read the article.

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