The majority of American consumers remain uninformed about genetically engineered (GE) salmon, which is currently being considered by the FDA whether or not to be introduced into the human food supply. With public comments now closed, opposing parties are anxiously waiting for results. It would be the first GE animal approved for commercialization and public consumption.
The salmon in question, named AquAdvantage, is an all-female, “sterile” population with eggs produced on Prince Edward Island, Canada and shipped to a grow-out facility in Panama. Such Atlantic salmon eggs are engineered with Chinook salmon genes to produce fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon.
While AquaBounty Technologies Inc. expects regulatory approval by the end of the year, environmental groups are raising serious concerns about the adequacy of the FDA’s review of the AquAdvantage Salmon application. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, internal documents revealed that during the review period, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was receiving applications to import AquAdvantage salmon eggs to the U.S. for commercial production. However, the FDA limited its environmental review to the two isolated locations — Canada and Panama — used by AquaBounty. Was the idea of GE salmon being grown in Panama a regulatory ruse?
To counteract, Alaskan Congressman Don Young, Rep. Mike Thomas and Rep. Jared Huffman introduced the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States (PEGASUS) Act, which aims to prohibit the shipment, transportation, sale, purchase and release of GE salmon unless the FWS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration complete a full environmental impact statement. In addition, nearly 1.5 million people commented to the FDA opposing GE salmon.
With the possibility of FDA approval, a coalition of consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups, representing more than 2,000 stores across the U.S., have committed to not selling GE salmon if allowed into the market. To learn more about the risks to health, the environment, and the fish industry posed by genetically engineered salmon see the Campaign for GE-Free Seafood.