AquaBounty's fight for GM farmed salmon: A SeafoodSource history

After more than two decades of waiting, AquaBounty today announced FDA approval for the sale of the company's AquAdvantage salmon in the United States. The salmon, which reaches market size in less time than conventional farmed Atlantic salmon thanks to genetic enhancing, is being touted as a "game changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats," said AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish.

Reactions are varied today within the industry, as Twitter users speculate as to how consumers will react to the sale of the salmon. Ongoing polls and comments to the SeafoodSource Twitter page reveal that although many see the news as bad, they believe consumers will eventually opt for the GM salmon -- if the price is right.

AquaBounty's fight for its GM salmon has been longstanding, and with that fight has come our varied coverage on the site. Here, we take a look back through the past year to the events leading up to the approved sale of AquAdvantage salmon in the U.S.

Tweet Chat covered farmed fish, GM labeling

Toward the end of 2014, SeafoodSource editors spoke with readers on Twitter about GM salmon, how it differs from aquaculture, the sale of GM eggs versus fish, and whether or not the fears over GM salmon are valid or overblown. Responses were varied and lent great insight as to how both consumers and industry professionals perceive GM salmon altogether. 

AquaBounty losses deepen as it still awaits FDA approval

In February of this year, former editor James Wright took a look at AquaBounty financials for the previous year -- more specifically, how the company experienced a significant net loss as it continued to await FDA approval for its GM salmon. Even at that time, however, Stotish remained optimistic. "In allowing the Arctic Apple and Innate Potato to be deregulated and planted for commercial use, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a clear signal that they are interested in science-based regulation and addressing future food needs,” said Stotish.

NGO calls on U.S. FDA to declare GMO salmon unsafe to eat

Food & Water Watch, and NGO group, issued two petitions in April 2015, asking the FDA to declare GMO salmon produced by AquaBounty as unsafe to eat. “It couldn’t be more clear to consumers that GMO salmon is a food, not a drug,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director. “It’s also clear that there are serious food safety concerns with this fish and major scientific gaps in FDA’s animal drug risk assessment. It’s time for FDA to step up and protect the health and welfare of American citizens rather than the economic interests of the biotechnology industry.”

U.S. Senator pushes for GE salmon label rule

In July 2015, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska pushed for language to be added to a bill that would require any GM salmon sold in the U.S. to have clear labeling for consumers. The language was an amendment sponsored by the senator to the FY16 Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spending bill. 

“I would just remind you — corn does not swim from one field to another and propagate with other corn in another state,” she said. “Fish move! Fish escape. We’re told these genetically-engineered fish will not mix with our wild, healthy stocks. Yet you can’t assure us that this in fact will be the case," said Murkowski.

Costco leaves door open to GE salmon

This past September, a spotlight landed on Costco after the retail chain left the door open to possibly selling GM salmon in the future. Although the retailor said it currently would not offer GM salmon as AquaBounty was still waiting FDA approval, only time will tell if, moving forward, GM salmon will be available at Costco chain stores. 

NGOs take Canada to court over genetically modified salmon

Today, alongside the announcement of AquaBounty's FDA approval of its GM salmon, we also learned that certain environmental groups are also going head-to-head with the Canadian government, after the country gave permission to AquaBounty to produce GM  salmon eggs within Canadian borders and then ship said eggs off to Panama for further harvesting.


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500