Food and Drug Administration officials will meet to discuss if a new genetically modified salmon will make its way into the U.S. food system.
AquaBounty Technologies’ new genetically modified “AquAdvantage Salmon” does not suffer from stunted growth during cold weathers and is able to grow to twice the size of a normal salmon in half the time.
Due to the nature of this debate, the FDA is considering the matter with regulations normally used in veterinary pharmaceuticals rather than food safety.
According to Section 5 of the group’s overview of this engineered Atlantic salmon, “That rDNA construct meets the definition of a ‘drug’ under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act” as “an article intended to alter the structure or function of the body of man or animal.”
A new animal drug application has since been filed by Aqua Bounty Technologies under those guidelines.
Dr. Ron Stotish, Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, stated “Both land-based resources and aquaculture resources are stressed as are wild-caught fisheries, and without improvements in productivity and efficiency, it’s hard to imagine how we’ll meet the protein needs of the developing population over the next 20 to 30 years.”
However, nearly an equal number of opponents have also surfaced with a primary concern over the limited data currently available.
The new genetically engineered salmon is still relatively untested and long term effects on health or the eco-system is not known. According to opponents of this new move, the limited set of data available to work with cannot confirm that the fish will not be a health hazard.
Wenonah Hauter, from the consumer watchdog group Food & Water Watch, summed it up by saying, “This is a dangerously limited set of data. Even the FDA acknowledges problems in the sample size, what’s the rush?”