FDA lifts import ban on genetically modified salmon

Mae Love
March 12, 2019

Genetically modified salmon are one step closer to reaching the dinner plates of American consumers.

These new regulations will mandate that companies selling "bioengineered" food will have to label their products as such, and come into force in 2020.

In 2015, AquAdvantage Salmon became the first genetically engineered animal intended for food to be approved by the FDA.

According to the Star Press, the company behind AquaAdvantage, AquaBounty, has a fish farm in Albany, Indiana that was awaiting regulatory approval to begin importing fish eggs from another company facility on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

The Food and Drug Administration in the USA announced on Friday that it is lifting an import ban that prevented a brand of genetically modified salmon - dubbed "Frankenfish" by some - from reaching US shopping selves, CNN reported.

According to the FDA, it complied with the guideline by blocking modified salmon from entering the U.S. However, after Congress enacted the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard relating to food labels in December, the FDA has chose to deactivate the import alert.

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

In the announcement Friday, the FDA said Congress mandated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture set standards for disclosing whether a food is bioengineered, and the FDA no longer had the authority to issue labeling guidance on the topic. Salmon eggs could then be sent from the company's research and development facility in Canada, and would be harvested after about 18 months when they reach 10 pounds, she said.

In its 2015 finding, the FDA said the salmon is safe to eat and the genetic material added to the fish's genome is safe for the animal. Aquabounty chief Sylvia Wulf told the AP she expected certification for an IN growing facility IN "weeks" and could receive eggs soon afterward, but it would take about 18 months for the salmon to reach their target weight.

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. "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.

In late 2015, just after FDA approval of the GE salmon, activists said they had commitments from 10 USA grocery chains not to sell the salmon. The Center for Food Safety and other interest groups are suing the FDA in order to prevent the salmon being raised and sold.

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