Sunday, 19 May, 2019

U.S. regulators clear path for genetically modified salmon

Salmon filet on a cutting board You might see GMO salmon at your local grocery as soon as 2020 but it will likely be labeled ‘bioengineered
Russell Knight | 12 March, 2019, 21:24

The Food and Drug Administration has lifted an import ban that prevented genetically modified salmon from entering the United States. George Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, one of several groups that have formed a coalition to sue the FDA over its approval of genetically engineered salmon, tells the Associated Press that there are environmental risks associated with the fish's rearing in the US.

The Food and Drug Administration said it lifted its import ban that had prevented AquaBounty from importing its salmon eggs to its IN facility, where they would be grown before being sold as food.

"A loophole has now been created that will allow the first genetically modified animal engineered for human consumption to enter the US market: GMO Atlantic salmon", the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations executive director Noah Oppenheim told the SF Bay Area Independent Media Center.

The FDA import ban was put in place three years ago, after the U.S. Congress demanded labeling guidelines for genetically-modified salmon be determined first.

Congress said rules on how genetically modified food is labeled had to be implemented first.

But in 2016, Congress said the salmon could not be sold in the United States until the FDA finalized labeling guidelines to inform consumers the product was genetically engineered. The move, announced on Friday (March 8), will allow AquaBounty to import AquAdvantage salmon eggs from its research and development center in Canada, grow them in the USA, and then sell them as food labeled "bioengineered", although the company is likely to face further challenges before it can do so.

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Last year, a decision was made that it will be mandatory to disclose if a food is bioengineered.

The move comes despite a lawsuit challenging the FDA's original approval of the fish.

The FDA approved the fish in 2015 and found it to be safe to eat, that the genetic modifications were safe for the fish and confirmed that it reaches a growth benchmark important to the aquaculture industry faster than non-modified farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Aquabounty chief Sylvia Wulf told the AP she expected certification for an IN growing facility IN "weeks" and could receive eggs soon afterward, but it would take about 18 months for the salmon to reach their target weight. The fish is already available in limited qualities on the market in Canada, where labelling is discretionary and up to grocers, the Post added.

A photo provided by AquaBountyTechnologies shows salmon eggs at the company's hatchery in Fortune, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The salmon are bred to all be female and sterile and they are raised in tanks, AP reported, measures aimed at addressing any fears the fish might get into the environment and breed with wild fish. AquaBounty said its GE salmon would reduce USA reliance on imported seafood.

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