FDA Approves Importation of Genetically Modified Salmon Eggs


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deactivated a 2016 import alert that prevented genetically engineered (GE) AquAdvantage Salmon from entering the US following a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

"A loophole has now been created that will allow the first genetically modified animal engineered for human consumption to enter the United States market: GMO Atlantic salmon".

On Friday, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement saying it has taken the important steps to provide labeling guidelines related to the GE salmon and is officially "deactivating" the 2016 import alert that prevented the salmon from entering the U.S.

This new technology has allowed the salmon to grow twice as fast with 25 percent less feed.

"A loophole has now been created that will allow the first genetically modified animal engineered for human consumption to enter the US market: GMO Atlantic salmon", the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations executive director Noah Oppenheim told the SF Bay Area Independent Media Center.

"We will immediately start the process to import AquAdvantage eggs from our hatchery in Canada to begin grow out at our in facility", she said.

While the salmon's meat has been approved as safe, many people opposed to GM foods worry about the potential for the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to get into the wild and disrupt natural habitats and food chains. She said the salmon already has been sold in limited quantities in Canada, where it doesn't have to be labeled as genetically modified.

"The FDA no longer has the authority to issue labeling guidance on this topic; however, the FDA believes this Congressional mandate has been satisfied by the USDA's issuance of final regulations implementing that law in late 2018 because the law and regulations require that human food containing GE salmon bear labeling indicating that it is bioengineered".

- USA regulators on Friday gave the green light to salmon genetically modified to grow about twice as fast as normal. As the Washington Post noted in 2017, the fish are created to be exclusively female as well as sterile, though the process is not entirely effective, and AquaBounty's Prince Edward Island facility is surrounded by salt water, where it believes the eggs can not survive.

The FDA's move also comes despite a pending lawsuit filed by a coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups that are challenging the agency's approval.

"We think a remedy in our case would stop sale of the fish before they're allowed to be sold", said George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, one of the groups suing the FDA. Wulf said she doesn't expect the pending lawsuit to affect the company's US plans.

While the salmon are bred to be sterile females, AquaBounty's own research suggests that it would be hard to guarantee all salmon are indeed sterile, he tells the AP, and there are concerns about the engineered fish breeding with wild salmon.