The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now allowing genetically engineered salmon and salmon eggs into the U.S. deactivating a 2016 import alert on such salmon. The import alert restricted the sale of genetically engineered salmon in the U.S. until labeling guidelines were issued. The U.S. Department of Agriculture put out rules for genetically engineered foods at the end of last year, satisfying that condition.
Maynard, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies is a clear winner in the lifting of the restrictions. The removal of the ban means the company’s AquAdvantage salmon eggs, produced at a facility in the province of Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada, can now be imported to the company’s grow-out facility in Indiana to be raised into salmon for food.
AquaBounty Technologies was founded in 1991. The FDA approved its application related to genetically engineered salmon in 2015 after determining that the fish was safe for human consumption. The FDA also found that the genetic engineering was safe for the animal. AquAdvantage Salmon is currently the only genetically-engineered animal for food use that has FDA approval.
AquaBounty’s technology alters the DNA of fish to speed up growth. The AquAdvantage Salmon integrates a chinook salmon growth hormone gene and some DNA from a fish called the ocean pout into the genome of Atlantic salmon. This allows the fish to grow faster than traditional Atlantic salmon and reach sellable size more quickly.
It’s not clear when genetically engineered salmon might hit the market, but the company is predicting that AquAdvantage Salmon would hit store shelves in the U.S. by 2020. The salmon is already sold in Canada. The cost of the salmon in the U.S. will depend on the market rates for salmon when the product is introduced.