The makers of genetically modified salmon are now embracing the “Frankenfish” name saying it’s much like the Frankenstein monster in the book written in 1817.

Undercurrent News reports that Sylvia Wulf, CEO of fish maker AquaBounty Technologies, said “It was the uneducated mob that didn’t understand the benefits of the science that killed Frankenstein. Let’s applaud the Frankenfish, because it’s designed to solve real-world global challenges.”

Wulf was speaking at a Recirculating Aquaculture System Technology (RAStech) conference this week in Washington, D.C.

In March, the Food and Drug Administration removed a three-year-old import alert that had stopped AquaBounty from importing eggs from Panama in order to grow and sell its fish in the US. With that final regulatory barrier gone, the company is now gearing up to go to market.

A first batch of eggs is on its way to a growing facility in Indiana with a goal of sending thousands of 8 to 11 pound, manmade Atlantic salmon to supermarkets next fall. Wulf said buyers are already lined up to get the fish.

AquaBounty already has tested its product in the Canadian market twice in 2017 and 2018, with   shipments of 10,000 pounds each from fish grown in Panama. Each time the product was distributed and sold out within a few days, the company told Undercurrent. However, those fish were not labeled as genetically engineered, as Canada does not have a labeling requirement,

By law, U.S.companies have until 2020 to begin labeling foods that contain 80 percent or more of genetically engineered materials with a mandatory compliance date of Jan. 1, 2022.

But it will fall to customers to find out that labeling information on their own, as labels may be a symbol, a digital link, text message, a phone number or web site.

AquaBounty called the labeling requirement “good news” because the market will be awash in so many bioengineered products, customers won’t focus on their fish.

“We think that’s really good news for us,” Wulf said. “We’re not going to be the only product in the grocery store, if you will, that’s going to carry the bioengineered symbol.”

Nearly 2 million Americans opposed the FDA’s approval of Frankenfish and about 60 major grocery chains with 9,000 locations pledged not to sell it, including Safeway, Kroger, Target and Whole Foods.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Woodrow, acting director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute says it’s just another type of farmed fish.

“Honestly, here at ASMI, we see that as just another farmed seafood product, and we’ve been competing against farmed salmon in the marketplace for several decades now. Wild, natural, sustainable – those are attributes that really only apply to Alaska salmon, wild-harvested salmon and that sets us apart in the marketplace, and those are the attributes that we’ll continue to sell to customers.

In a touch of irony, while AquaBounty plans to expand its sales to China and South America, it has no plans to pitch its manmade fish to Europe because of “their anti-genetically modified leanings.”

 

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