AquaBounty fires back at coalition

AquaBounty Technologies, the company developing genetically modified salmon, this week fired back at a coalition that blasted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s potential approval of the salmon for human consumption.

In a prepared statement, Ronald Stotish, Ph.D., executive director, president and CEO of AquaBounty Technologies, called the coalition’s claims “inaccurate, deliberately misleading and intended to create fear and misunderstanding.”

Stotish said the Waltham, Mass., biotechnology firm’s AquAdvantage® Salmon is the most studied fish in the world, adding that the FDA has spent the last 15 years creating a “robust” regulatory process to ensure the fish and other transgenic animal applications are appropriately evaluated and regulated.

Late last week, a coalition of 31 consumer, animal welfare, environmental and fishermen’s groups said genetically modified salmon represent a serious threat to the survival of native salmon populations due to escapement and competition for resources.

But, according to AquaBounty, the salmon are a possible solution to many of the environmental concerns associated with salmon fishing, and the company has taken steps to ensure that the fish cannot interact with wild populations. All females are sterile and the fish are raised in land-based contained aquaculture systems, making escape into the wild impossible.

“AquAdvantage salmon represent an opportunity to avoid many of the concerns associated with conventional salmon aquaculture and also present a lower carbon footprint and environmental impact because of their efficient growth,” said Stotish.

“They can be grown economically closer to population centers, reducing the need for long-distance transportation, a huge benefit to the environment,” he explained. “AquAdvantage Salmon represent an opportunity to provide a safe and sustainable supply of high quality seafood to a growing world population. In an era of shrinking wild fish stocks, AquAdvantage Salmon should be applauded by environmentalists and responsible people concerned with food safety.”

Click here to view last year’s SeafoodSource Q&A with Stotish.

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