AquaBounty GE salmon eligible for BAP certification; company plans to pursue

Published on
March 13, 2019

In the wake of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifting its import alert preventing genetically engineered salmon or salmon eggs from entering the country, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) has acknowledged that some genetically engineered products – in particular AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage salmon – is eligible for Best Aquaculture Practices certification. 

In a statement issued by GAA, the organization acknowledged that its current policy prevents BAP certification for any genetically engineered salmon being raised in marine-based net-pens or cage systems, due to the risk of escapes or other factors that could potentially contaminate local fish populations. However, because AquaBounty is planning to use a land-based system that’s far from any natural salmon populations, the company’s product can qualify.

“AquAdvantage’s grow-out facility would be eligible to apply for BAP certification, if the company so chooses,” the GAA stated in a release.

A spokesperson for AquaBounty confirmed to SeafoodSource that the company is currently planning to pursue BAP certification. Further details could not be provided at this time.

In order to become certified, AquaBounty will have to undergo the same process as other aquaculture operation. 

“To attain BAP certification, the company would have to demonstrate, through the third-party, independent audit process, that they satisfy every component of the standards," GAA stated.

Those standards include clear labeling indicated that the product is genetically engineered, so that consumers can make informed decisions. A representative of GAA could not comment to SeafoodSource on what those labeling requirements could be yet. 

GAA also plans to have its 12-member Standards Oversight Committee review the BAP standards after Seafood Expo North America. The committee will discuss a range of issues, including taking into account how to handle GE salmon.

While AquAdvantage salmon will be eligible for BAP certification, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council confirmed genetic engineered fish will likely not be allowed to gain certification with their organization.

“All ASC’s Standards prohibit the production of transgenic animals. The ASC Salmon Standard does not permit transgenic salmon due to concerns about their unknown impact on wild populations,” Sun Brage, ASC communications manager, stated. “Furthermore, the ASC Standard requires that should genetically modified (GM) ingredients be used in the feed, this has to be communicated to the buyer. ASC is the only leading aquaculture certification program making that requirement.”

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