AquaBounty: 2011 a ‘frustrating’ year


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
May 28, 2012

AquaBounty Technologies — the Massachusetts-based company that’s working to get its genetically modified salmon approved for sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — on Tuesday reported a net loss of USD 2.7 million in 2011, a year the company’s CEO called “frustrating.”

It is an improvement from 2010 when AquaBounty posted a USD 5.3 million net loss. However, the company’s cash and marketable securities at the end of 2011 amounted to USD 1.6 million, compared USD 6.2 million at the end of 2010.

AquaBounty reiterated that it has adopted a reorganization plan to reduce operating costs by 30 percent, providing enough funds to bring it through early 2013.

Said AquaBounty CEO Ron Stotish, “2011 was a frustrating year of waiting for some indication of FDA progress on our application, while continuing our R&D work and preparation for the commercialization phase. We now await the publication of the FDA’s Environmental Assessment, which the FDA commissioner has indicated will be very soon. Following the publication of the environmental assessment, we expect to receive final approval of our new animal drug application within the subsequent few months.”

It’s been 20 months since an FDA committee concluded that AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage Salmon — which allows Atlantic salmon to grow to market size of about 8 pounds in just 18 months, compared to the standard 36 months — is safe to eat and does not pose a threat to the environment. Since then, the FDA has been considering its responsibilities under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act and preparing its Environmental Assessment for AquAdvantage Salmon, which the company expects to be published in the coming weeks. Once published, the company anticipates final approval of the fish to be received within the next four months.

It’s been more than 15 years since AquaBounty submitted its first GM salmon study to the FDA.

Late last week, AquaBounty cleared yet another hurdle when the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that would have required genetically modified salmon to undergo the same scientific and economic analysis that all federal fisheries are required to go through before being approved to be sold in the marketplace.

Also, Kakha Bendukidze, AquaBounty’s largest shareholder, was the subject of a New York Times’ profile early last week. He said the company can stay afloat a while longer, but he’s is skeptical that GM salmon will be approved in the United States in an election year, given the resistance from lawmakers and environmental and consumer groups.

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