GMO salmon inching toward US markets

AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon, AquAdvantage, continues to inch closer towards markets in the United States, despite efforts opposing the commercialization of GMO salmon.

Walmart and Albertsons are the most recent retail chains to say they will not sell GMO salmon when it becomes commercially available. They joined Target, Ahold, Delhaize America and many other major supermarket companies in deciding against selling GMO salmon.

On the political front, Alaska State Rep. Garen Tarr is introducing a bill that would prohibit the sale of genetically modified fish in Alaska.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was recently ordered to produce additional documents relating to its approval of AquAdvantage salmon as part of a lawsuit filed last March by environmental groups, fishing organizations and others. The plaintiffs contend that the FDA should never have been the agency to approve GMO salmon, since it oversees veterinary drugs, not whole fish for human consumption.

They also raised concerns about the consequences of potential escape of GMO salmon into the wild supply and believe labeling of GMO salmon commercial products should be mandatory.

While FDA provided some documents in the legal case, the agency has provided only public documents, not internal documents relating to its approval of GMO salmon, George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told SeafoodSource.

“You can’t have proper judicial review with a sanitized record, which is what they provided us,” Kimbrell said.

However, the judge in the case recently ordered FDA to produce all documents relating to AquAdvantage salmon, including items such as internal memos.

Despite efforts opposing the commercial sale of AquAdvantage salmon, AquaBounty continues to perform well financially. The biotech firm recently raised $25 million via Intrexon for working capital and investments over the next two years, and it recently started trading on the NASDAQ market.

“AquaBounty’s listing on NASDAQ represents an important milestone for the company that will broaden our exposure to the U.S. markets, as we advance plans for commercial production of our pioneering, environmentally responsible approach to fish farming,” AquaBounty CEO Ronald L. Stotish said.

The company’s management is “evaluating several paths to revenue generation,” including production of AquAdvantage fish at the company’s existing farm in Panama, as well as the purchase of an existing production facility in North America, and construction of a new production facility in North America, AquaBounty said in a statement.

“Commensurate with the industry’s rapid growth, stresses on the oceans and new challenges resulting from open-sea cage farming are expected to rise,” Stotish said. “Our game-changing platform affords better economics for land-based aquaculture and all the advantages that it brings, including nutritious Atlantic salmon free of antibiotics, vaccines, and other treatments that are necessary to minimize infection in fish farming today.”


This story originally appeared on SeafoodSource.com. It is reprinted with permission.

About the author

Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is the online editor for National Fisherman.

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