Just a few days ago, FDA approved the first genetically modified salmon for mass production. The company that is behind this project is AquaBounty Technologies and they approached FDA with this GMO product back in the 1990s. However, this is the first time FDA gave a green light to GMO salmon. Of course, there are a number of rules and regulations that simply has to be followed, but we will take a closer look at those later on.
So, what exactly is genetically modified salmon? It is clear that the researchers have worked on this project for quite some time now and the simplest answer we can give you is that it is a salmon with the advanced growth hormone that makes this fish develop faster. The hormone was taken from the Pacific Chinook salmon. Genetically modified salmon also has another gene from ocean pout that aids the growth hormone, making it stronger and more effective.
FDA took their time with this one and came to a conclusion that genetically modified salmon made by AquaBounty Technologies does not differ from the standard salmon that is caught in the wilderness. The nutritional values are the same and they came to a conclusion that it is not harmful to humans or animals. But there are a couple of restrictions, such as the place where this new salmon is allowed to be grown.
FDA made it clear that the salmon should be raised only in Canada and Panama. It is not allowed to be released in the nature and the growing process should be done in artificial environment, such as large water tanks. This security measure is obligatory in order to prevent the GMO salmon from mixing up with the standard species. FDA will also be keeping a close eye on the factories themselves and will be checking them out quite often.
CEO of AquaBounty Technologies is convinced that this is a watershed moment in food production and claims that it is the best way to deliver healthy and nourishing foods to the consumers without damaging and polluting the environment, especially the ocean wildlife. But on the other hand, the groups who are against GMO have been very vocal about this FDA decision, which is turning out to be quite thought provoking.
A couple of large grocery food chains have already announced that they will not be selling this type of salmon in their stores. That can be a strong blow to AquaBounty Technologies and their long term plans. Also, the environmentalists are concerned about the possible escape of these genetically modified salmons into the wildlife. AquaBounty’s CEO assured them that the escape scenario is quite unlikely, but the critics remain unconvinced. Also the Center for Food Safety will be suing FDA for giving AquaBounty an approval.
This entire ordeal is turning out to be quite messy and even if you are willing to try the genetically modified salmon for yourself, the chances are you won’t be able to find it in your nearest store. The end result is uncertain and this type of salmon might never reach the United States like AquaBounty has planned.
It seems like FDA approval doesn’t mean much to people right now. Yes, the manufacturers can put GMO labels on their products, but doesn’t mean that the consumers will be purchasing them from the stores. Sure, the advancement of biotechnology is evident and we are capable of improving and modifying various organisms, but it is clear that people are not entirely convinced in the safety of these new products. We simply have to wait and see what will eventually happen to AquaBounty’s salmon if and when it reaches the shelves.