Time ago we wrote about the fact that US Food and Drug Administration was considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered salmon. We have a verdict: from now on the production, selling and consumption of this transgenic salmon is considered to be legal by the FDA. The fish results to be slightly bigger than average and takes half of the time to grow and mature.
This biotechnology company from the US, AquaBounty, has been researching on the matter for many years now. Their fish, named AquAdvantage, is an hybrid between an Atlantic salmon and a king salmon, a very big species from the Pacific Ocean. It is thanks to this new breeding that they are able to produce a big amount of growth hormones in order to achieve the size of a three years salmon, the dimension requested on the market, in just in one year and a half.
The labeling issue is interesting, because the FDA did not require a label specifying that the product is transgenic, this because, according to them, “it is as safe and nutritious as a non-genetically modified Atlantic Salmon”.
This transgenic fish got the green light after more than 25 years of studies and checks. One of the principal arguments of those against AquAdavantage is the fear of the effects on health and the environment. But the FDA ensures that the tanks where these animals will be raised (on land) in Canada and Panama “have a series of multiple, redundant physical barriers to prevent eggs and fish to escape”.
Ronald L. Stotish, Chief Executive Officer of AquaBounty, clarified: "AquAdvantage Salmon is a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats. Using land-based aquaculture systems, this rich source of protein and other nutrients can be farmed close to major consumer markets in a more sustainable manner".
This opens the door to new perspectives on food production. It could represent a sustainable alternative to preserve ecosystems while satisfying the consumers.