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.
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
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.
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.
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:
- FDA draft on Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants
- Comment on the draft here
Companies and Links
- Aquabounty, the Candian company behind the fish
- FDA approval: FDA Has Determined That the AquAdvantage Salmon is as Safe to Eat as Non-GE Salmon