FDA lifts import ban for genetically modified salmon eggs

FDA lifts import ban for genetically modified salmon eggs

This means AquaBounty Technologies can legally bring its GMO AquAdvantage Salmon eggs into the US from Canada and grow the fish for food at the company's contained facility in Indiana.

The fish first won FDA approval in 2015, which was the first approval of a genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for food use by the agency.

Called AquAdvantage, the fish is Atlantic salmon modified with DNA from other fish species to grow faster, which the company says will help feed growing demand for animal protein while reducing costs.

On Friday the FDA announced that a genetically modified type of salmon will soon be allowed to be imported and reared in the USA ahead of new labelling requirements coming into force which ultimately will allow the fish to be sold to consumers. AquaBounty figured out a way to use a growth hormone-regulating gene from Pacific Chinook salmon, along with a promoter gene from ocean pout, an eel-like marine animal, in order to grow genetically modified Atlantic salmon year-round instead of only during the spring and summer.

The deactivation of the import alert means that AquAdvantage Salmon eggs can now be imported to the company's contained grow-out facility in IN to be raised into salmon for food.

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The agency said it no longer has authority to issue labeling guidelines for GMO products such as AquAdvantage Salmon since the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now in charge of implementing mandatory standards for disclosing whether a food is bioengineered following the recent adoption of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.

The FDA found that AquaAdvantage salmon pose no risk to human health, are healthy themselves, and would have no significant impact on the environment. The FDA, after years of review, had deemed food from the AquaAdvantage Salmon safe to eat in 2015 and said there is no biological difference between these salmon and nongenetically engineered salmon.

- US regulators on Friday gave the green light to salmon genetically modified to grow about twice as fast as normal. Since once the eggs arrive from Canada it will take about 18 months to grow the fish to market size, Wulf predicted that sales of product from the company's Albany facility would begin about the third quarter of 2020. The original NADA only specified AquaBounty's facility on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the salmon eggs are produced, and the company's grow-out facility in Panama.

The salmon are bred to all be female and sterile and they are raised in tanks, AP reported, measures aimed at addressing any fears the fish might get into the environment and breed with wild fish. "FDA's actions will allow for production and sale to begin here in the US, bringing opportunity for investment in rural America, creating American jobs, while also reducing dependence on seafood imports", Wulf said in a statement. An alliance of public interest, environmental and pro-fishing groups is in the midst of suing the FDA to overturn the approval on safety grounds.

Wulf told AP she doesn't expect the pending lawsuit filed by a coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups to affect the company's US plans.

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