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What You Should Know About the Company Pushing Genetically Engineered Salmon on Consumers

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Fish & Sustainability page, and our California News page.
AquaBounty Technologies, maker of genetically engineered salmon, is almost out of money. It's been more than two decades since the prototype of its AquAdvantage salmon was spliced into existence, and a decade since AquaBounty applied for FDA approval, but the fish remains on the sidelines of a salmon-hungry market.

The approval process is the first use of FDA's guidelines for GE animals, and if approved AquAdvantage would be the first GE animal greenlighted for human consumption. Further complicating matters, FDA chose to treat the salmon as a "New Animal Drug," rather than a food. The drug per se is the genetically engineered part of each piece of AquAdvantage DNA, and is found in every cell of the fish.

The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with genes inserted from a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout. The Chinook gene codes for growth hormone, and the pout gene keeps the Chinook gene locked in the "on" position. The extra growth hormone helps the AquAdvantage salmon reach market size twice as fast as non-GE salmon.

The approval process hasn't moved significantly since September 2010, when FDA announced it would redo a previous environmental assessment on the fish. The assessment is problematic because the fish aren't produced in the U.S. Eggs fertilized on Prince Edward Island, Canada, are shipped to a containment facility in interior Panama.


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