UPDATE: The FDA approved AquaBounty's AquAdvantage salmon, now the first genetically modified animal OK'd in the U.S. As of now, the U.S. imports more than 95% of Atlantic salmon consumed, so the new product opens up the potential for a boost to the domestic aquaculture industry.
Genetically modified food remains a contentious issue in the U.S. and it's unclear whether the product would be labeled to make it clear where it came from, something that will gripe consumers.
- Environmental groups are suing the Canadian government to stop AquaBounty Technologies from producing genetically modified salmon eggs in Canada and shipping them to Panama.
- AquaBounty says its GM salmon "pose no threat to the environment and will be kept in special disease- and antibiotic-free conditions. The modified fish can grow to the size of wild salmon with 75% less feed, reducing the product’s carbon footprint by up to 25 times, AquaBounty claims," reported The Guardian.
- However, environmentalists called the process a "huge live experiment" that could tamper with the genetic makeup of all wild Atlantic salmon by mixing GM salmon and wild fish. Concerned parties feel the measures that would prevent this mixing are "inadequate" and could lead to unforeseeable consequences, Mark Butler, campaigner at the Ecology Action Centre, told The Guardian.
According to the lawsuit, "the Canadian government breached its own environmental laws by providing AquaBounty with a far wider permit than it was assessed on, potentially opening the way for other companies to produce GM fish eggs in Canada. The lawsuit also states the government did not follow the correct procedures in its approval," The Guardian reported.
AquaBounty has been on a 20-year journey trying to get its GM salmon approved to sell for consumption in the U.S. According to AquaBounty CEO Ron Stotish, the environmentalists' lawsuit is "completely without merit."
"This will potentially be the world’s first genetically modified fish available for human consumption and it’s clear the GM industry wants to get other animal products approved after this," said Butler.