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FDA Weighs Approval Of Engineered Salmon

by Britt E. Erickson
September 27, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 39

Credit: AquaBounty Technologies
Transgenic salmon grow twice as fast as conventional salmon.
Credit: AquaBounty Technologies
Transgenic salmon grow twice as fast as conventional salmon.

Genetically engineered salmon that grow about twice as fast as conventional salmon appear to be safe for human consumption, but there are gaps in the safety data, an FDA advisory committee has concluded. On Sept. 20, FDA presented its Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee with data on animal health, food safety, and environmental concerns related to the modified salmon. The fish, called AquAdvantage salmon, are being developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. The company claims that only sterile females will be sold and that its product has both economic and environmental benefits. But several consumer and environmental groups are urging FDA not to approve the modified salmon out of fear that some fish will not be sterile and will escape and breed with wild fish, and out of concern that the fish will lead to an increase in allergic reactions. Transgenic animals are regulated as veterinary drugs by FDA. If the agency approves the AquAdvantage salmon, it will be the first time a genetically engineered animal has been approved for food consumption in the U.S.


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