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How the salmon was engineered © 2013 MCT
As the first genetically engineered animal, a new salmon fish just received it's FDA approval and can now be sold in the US. A new gene from an eel-like fish was inserted and now the salmon grows as double as fast while even eating less. The fish will only be grown in closed, land-based aqua farms. Already today, half of the world wide fish is not captured from nature anymore but grown in aqua farms. 

Already back in 1996 the canadian company AquaBounty Technologies asked for an FDA approval, and the process took until today to prove, that there are no long term health risks involved in eating the genetically altered fish. 


Approval process

A professor of genetics at Purdue University, Dr. William Muir, said there is "no credible evidence" that these fish are a risk to either human health or the environment. Muir was among 80 scientists and biotech industry executives who, in 2014, sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for administration support for this approval.

AquaBounty's salmon was originally developed as a fast-growing variety by a group of Canadian public university scientists over a quarter of a century ago, and the company has been trying to get regulatory approval for almost two decades, said Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam of the University of California. She called the FDA's five-year decision-making process on the fish "unprecedented" and said the approval was "long overdue." FDA policy analyst Laura Epstein told reporters that because the approval was the first of its kind, the agency wanted "to get everything right" and offer many opportunities for public comment.

Joe Perry, former chair of the European Food Safety Authority, said European regulators would require a lot more data than the FDA before giving a similar green light to engineered salmon

© Text 2015 Reuters


U.S. consumer and environmental groups also renewed their opposition to the product. Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food & Water Watch, said the group is talking to members of Congress about rolling back the FDA approval. The group is also considering a lawsuit to block genetically modified salmon from reaching the market. Activist group Friends of the Earth estimates that at least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish, along with chickens, pigs and cows, are under development. The FDA's decision on salmon may set a precedent that could make approval for other genetically modified animal species easier.

© Text 2015 Reuters

Security measurements


Fish grown from their eggs are all female and sterile, making it impossible for them to breed among themselves and with other salmon. In addition, FDA approval requires them to be grown in physically contained land-based systems, further reducing any potential impact on wild populations. Those fish will be produced in on-land fish farms in Canada and Panama. 

© Text 2015 Aquabounty

Labeling of GMO products

As this is the very first GMO animal approved for the market, the FDA is currently seeking out to the public to comment on their thoughts of how to label GMO products: 

What do you think?

About the author

View full profile Jérôme Lutz from Berlin & Munich, Germany

I like to share the great things I discover daily while researching and working in the field of Synthetic Biology.

When I talk to people about it, they often refer to Science Fiction. However, when I send them links to this wiki and they read through those pages, they start understanding that this is real and it's happening right now.