With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recent recommendation for its commercialization, the world’s first genetically-engineered (GE) fish just swam a little closer to your dinner table.
This super fast-growing salmon, called AquAdvantage, is produced by the Massachusetts-based company, AquaBounty Technologies. They argue that this super fast-growing salmon is the same as naturally born salmon – except that it has a growth hormone gene that allows it to mature to a harvestable size twice as quickly as naturally born Atlantic salmon.
Unlike naturally born salmon that do not produce growth hormones in the winter, this genetically modified AquAdvantage salmon uses a section of DNA borrowed from the ocean pout, an eel-like creature that lives in extremely cold environments. This programs the salmon to produce its growthhormone year-round, so the fish experiences a never-ending growth spurt.
Earlier this month, the FDA completed its evaluation of the environmental impact of producing these super-fast growing GE salmon. The FDA supported its commercialization on the U.S. market, despite its potential effects. For example, if any of these transgenic salmon escaped into the wild and reproduced, they could potentially reduce biodiversity, leading to possible degradation of an environment and its species immune system.
With the USDA reporting that more than 94 percent of our soybeans and 88 percent of our corn already genetically modified, GE animals are clearly the next frontier. And just like with other genetically engineered foods, without a label indicating these salmon as genetically modified, there will be no way for you to separate them from natural salmon. It is critical that we have the knowledge to make an informed decision about the foods we choose to feed our families. Spread the word and tell the FDA to just label it!