- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering approval of genetically engineered salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts biotechnology company focused on improving productivity in commercial aquaculture.
Paul Olin of the California Sea Grant Extension Program says the transgenic salmon is safe for consumption and the environment.
"If we take time to learn the facts and understand the science we can all appreciate new advances in our ability to produce healthy, sustainable food with the confidence that it has been vetted by the scrutiny of the world’s best science," Olin said.
The “AquAdvantage” Atlantic salmon (AAS) has two genes that considerably hasten its growth, one from Chinook salmon and the other from ocean pout. AAS reaches market size twice as fast as traditional salmon, providing an economic benefit to farmers and enhancing the economic viability of inland operations, thereby diminishing the need for ocean pens.
AquaBounty plans to grow the hybrid fish on Prince Edward Island, ship small fish to inland recirculating production systems in Panama, harvest and process the fish, and ship food grade product back to the United States for sale. The fish for this production system would be 95 percent triploid females, as a duplicative measure to prevent reproduction. Olin said triploid crops have an extra set of genes and are widely used in agriculture including such apple varieties as Gravenstein and MacIntosh, and seedless bananas, watermelon and grapes.
Olin cited a 2008 scientific review, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, that said GM foods had been eaten by millions of people worldwide for 15 years, with no reports of ill effects.
"New technologies to genetically improve food and animal crops are one tool to supply the additional food people will need in the future, improving human health, reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and reducing the carbon footprint of animal and plant agriculture," Olin said.