Genetically Engineered Fish Producer Plans Ohio Salmon Farm

AquaBounty Technologies
Image via AquaBounty Technologies.

AquaBounty Technologies Inc., a land-based firm that produces genetically modified salmon, has announced plans to construct a 10,000-metric ton salmon farm in the village of Pioneer, Ohio.

The company said in a statement to investors in late January that they have implemented rigorous processes to mitigate potential supply chain challenges resulting from the current market environment, while containing any potential price increases, including ordering of key technology items for the farm.

AquaBounty also has aquaculture farms in Prince Edward Island, Canada and the state of Indiana. The genetically modified product is described by the company as a fish free of antibiotics and other contaminants, raised in land-based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems designed to prevent disease and include multiple levels of fish containment to protect wild fish populations.  Their product offers a reduced carbon footprint and no risk of pollution of marine ecosystems, as compared to traditional sea-cage farming, the company said.

The announcement did not say when construction is to be completed or the plant will become fully operational.

In November of 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Food and Drug Administration violated core environmental laws in approving genetically engineered (GE) salmon.

The court ruled that FDA ignored serious environmental consequences of approving GE salmon and the full extent of plans to grow and commercialize the salmon in the U.S. and around the world, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The court also ruled that FDA’s unilateral decision that GE salmon could have no possible impact on highly endangered wild Atlantic salmon was wrong, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Opposition to the retail sale of such product by commercial fishermen and others engaged in the harvest and processing of wild salmon has for several years prompted the introduction of legislation in Congress to require clear labeling of genetically engineered fish products.

A bill currently in the U.S. House, H.R. 270, Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act, was introduced by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, in January 2021. It calls for specific labeling of genetically engineered seafood products, to clearly distinguish the product from wild seafood. A companion bill, S. 1940, bearing the same name, was introduced in the Senate in late May 2021 by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.