United States approves GM salmon for human consumption

“The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by Aqua Bounty Technologies regarding Aqu Advantage Salmon

The first genetically engineered animals cleared for human consumption anywhere on Earth will be available for purchase in the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that the altered fish bred by AquaBounty Technologies has been deemed fit for human consumption without separate labeling required.

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision came after years of controversy over the fish, which is a type of new Atlantic salmon injected with a gene from Pacific Chinook salmon to make it grow faster.

In the lengthy approval process of the FDA, the agency had assessed the nutritional profiles as well as the hormone levels to compare modified fishes to fishes raised in farms. There are a few requirements; however, they only can be raised in land-based, contained hatchery tanks, and those are only found in two specific facilities in Canada and Panama.

However, despite all these safeguards many consumer and environmental advocacy groups opposed the Thursday decision. Because there are no material differences between an engineered and a normal salmon, the FDA says the law does not require the fish to be labeled as engineered. As a precaution, though, the GM salmon are sterile, meaning that even if one does get out and into a suitable water environment, it won't be able to breed with other salmon populations.

Just hours after the FDA's announcement, The Center for Food Safety said it plans to sue the FDA, according to a news release.

The FDA also issued voluntary guidelines for food makers who want to include genetically engineered salmon or plants in their products. "Not only does this ignore consumers' fundamental right to know how our food is produced, it is simply bad for business, since many consumers will avoid purchasing any salmon for fear it is genetically engineered".

Perls says more than 60 grocery chains, including Whole Foods, Kroger, and Safeway, have already pledged not to carry the new salmon, she says.

Critics have tried to keep GE fish off the market, questioning both its safety and its potential to damage wild salmon stocks. In order to make sure the fish do not make their way out, the facilities have multiple barriers.