AquaBounty, the maker of the world’s first genetically engineered salmon, has asked a federal court to allow it to assist the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in defending a challenge to the F.D.A.’s authority to regulate GE animals.
The F.D.A. ruled in November 2015 that AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage salmon, which is Atlantic salmon modified with a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon and a promoter sequence from an ocean pout that enables it to grow faster, is safe to eat.
A coalition of groups led by the Center for Food Safety filed a federal lawsuit claiming the F.D.A. lacks the authority to make rulings on genetically engineered animals, based on the argument that the U.S. Congress first must provide “explicit statutory authority” to the agency.
“The company says it has ‘significant interests’ that cannot be fully represented by the FDA and argues ‘no entity is more directly threatened’ by the lawsuit,” Food Chemical News reported 20 June. “If FDA’s approval is set aside or ‘limited in any way,’ AquaBounty would lose the opportunity to recoup its investments by selling its GE salmon and earn a return on its investment in production capability,” the news site reported.
AquaBounty, based in Massachusetts, U.S.A., runs a GE salmon hatchery on Canada’s Prince Edward Island and has said it will raise its salmon at a farm in Panama. The U.S. is not the only country that has deemed AquAdvantage salmon safe to eat; it was also declared safe for consumption by Canada in May.
Besides the F.D.A. issue, AquaBounty is also facing other challenges: The U.S. Congress has blocked commercial approval of the product until the theF.D.A. issues rules on how GE salmon must be labeled, and a significant number of U.S. retailers including Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Target, Giant Eagle, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have said they will not sell GE salmon in their stores, according to Food Chemical News.