Friday, November 20, 2015

FDA approves genetically altered salmon, nation's first such animal approved by government agency

On Thursday the Food and Drug Administration "approved the nation's first genetically altered animal—a salmon engineered to grow twice as fast as its natural counterpart," Brady Dennis reports for The Washington Post. "AquAdvantage, produced by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish. The result is a fish that is large enough for consumption in about a year and a half, rather than the typical three years." (AquaBounty Technologies photo: Two same-age salmon, a genetically modified salmon, rear, and a non-genetically modified salmon, foreground)

FDA officials said the decision "was 'based on sound science and a comprehensive review' and that regulators are confident that the genetically altered fish is as safe to eat as a normal Atlantic salmon, with no discernible difference in its nutritional value," Dennis writes. "Officials noted that the agency held meetings, combed through thousands of public comments and conducted scientific and environmental assessments about the AquaBounty fish before finally approving it."

Critics argue that approval of the genetically altered salmon "could open the door to a broad range of potentially unsafe genetically modified animal foods," Dennis writes. "Knowing an FDA approval was likely, critics have in recent years won commitments from some of the nation's most recognizable chains—including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target—to not sell the fish." (Read more)

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