Plans are in the works to send genetically modified salmon to markets in the U.S. and Canada by next year.
Despite nearly two million messages opposing the man-made fish, it got the nod by the Food and Drug Administration in 2015. That followed a more than 20-year push by AquaBounty Technologies of Massachusetts for approval of what will be the first GM animal ok’d for human consumption.
Health Canada approved the fish for consumption in 2016 saying that fillets derived from so called AquAdvantage salmon “are as safe and nutritious as fillets from farmed Atlantic salmon.”
Now, technicians at Prince Edward Island are creating fertilized Atlantic salmon eggs that include growth-enhancing DNA from two other fish that make them grow twice as fast as real salmon. The eggs will be shipped to tanks in Panama, and then grown out at a land based aquaculture system in Indiana. A second facility is planned at Prince Edward Island in Canada.
AquaBounty plans to produce 1,300 tons, or nearly 3 million pounds, of Frankenfish annually starting in 2018.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senators from Alaska, Washington, and Oregon last week filed a Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act that would require that any man-made salmon must be labeled as such.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski –
“The FDA – to allow for the first time ever this genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, then at a bare minimum you’ve got to stick a label on it that says so. This experiment I think puts at risk the health of our fisheries not only in Alaska, but throughout the Pacific Northwest.”
The Act also requires an independent third-party review of the environmental assessment process within the FDA for the approval of Frankenfish and any other new species that are being created in labs.
No matter how it pans out, the fish will be a tough sell.
More than 80 grocery chains and restaurants have stated they will not sell the genetically modified fish.