Genetically Engineered Salmon Approved for Consumption
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By ANDREW POLLACKNOV. 19, 2015
Federal regulators on Thursday approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables.
The approval by the Food and Drug Administration caps a long struggle for AquaBounty Technologies, a small company that first approached the F.D.A. about approval in the 1990s. The agency made its initial determination that the fish would be safe to eat and for the environment more than five years ago.
The approval of the salmon has been fiercely opposed by some consumer and environmental groups, which have argued that the safety studies were inadequate and that wild salmon populations might be affected if the engineered fish were to escape into the oceans and rivers.
“This unfortunate, historic decision disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world, who have voiced strong opposition,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.
Within hours of the agency’s decision on Thursday, one consumer advocacy group, the Center for Food Safety, said it and other organizations would file a lawsuit challenging the approval.
The AquAdvantage salmon, as it is known, is an Atlantic salmon that has been genetically modified so that it grows to market size faster than a non-engineered farmed salmon, in as little as half the time.
“The F.D.A. has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty regarding the AquAdvantage salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” Bernadette Dunham, director of the agency’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement.