FDA Approves Importation of Genetically Modified Salmon Eggs


The FDA will now allow AquaAdvantage Salmon eggs, produced by AquaBounty, to be imported to the company's land-based facility in IN and raised into salmon for food.

The Yurok ban came in the wake of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision on November 19 to approve genetically engineered salmon, dubbed "Frankenfish", as being fit for human consumption, in spite of massive public opposition to the decision by fishermen, Tribes, environmental organizations and public interest organizations. AquaAdvantage Salmon contains intentional genomic alterations (IGAs) and is genetically engineered to reach market size more rapidly than its non-GE, farm-raised Atlantic salmon counterpart.

On Friday, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement saying it has taken the important steps to provide labeling guidelines related to the GE salmon and is officially "deactivating" the 2016 import alert that prevented the salmon from entering the U.S. "Therefore, the FDA is deactivating the import alert that prevented food from AquAdvantage Salmon, including salmon eggs used to grow the fish, from entering the U.S." he claimed.

By lifting the alert, the FDA is allowing AquAdvantage Salmon eggs to be imported to a facility in IN where the eggs can be grown into fish for food.

FDA stated, in a press release, that it believes that the Congressional mandate was satisfied when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the final rule implementing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (for more information on the final rule, see our December 20, 2018 blog). However, as of now, only a limited number of the genetically modified salmons are available in Canadian markets. Under a rider that Murkowski attached to FDA funding bills, the agency was obliged to block sale of GE salmon until it issued regulations for special labels on the fish. "As FDA notes in this announcement, our salmon was approved by the agency over three years ago based upon a very comprehensive science-based review process, which established that our salmon was safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound and met all other regulatory requirements". "FDA's actions will allow for production and sale to begin here in the USA, bringing opportunity for investment in rural America, creating American jobs, while also reducing dependence on seafood imports", Wulf said in a statement.

Kimbrell told the AP that his organisation had concerns that the fish could escape and breed with unmodified salmon in the wild, as well as that disclosure rules only mandate the use of the relatively unfamiliar term "bioengineered" and can hide even that language behind a scannable QR code on the package.

As the Associated Press reported, however, a "coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups" filed a lawsuit asking for the FDA's approval of the fish to be overturned.

However, Wulf added that it has been hard to engage in sales discussions with companies since the ban, but she said limited quantities have been sold in Canada, where it doesn't have to be labeled as "genetically modified".

In a statement to FOX Business, AquaBounty said if all goes well, it plans to have its first harvest by the Fall of 2020.