FDA Clears Way for GE Salmon in US Markets

An import alert that kept genetically modified salmon from entering domestic markets has been lifted by US Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb, clearing the way for AquAdvantage Salmon to produce and market in the United States.

Gottlieb said the FDA’s approval of the genetically engineered (GE) fish produced by AquaBounty Technologies, of Maynard, MA, followed a comprehensive analysis of scientific evidence, which determined that the GE Atlantic salmon met the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

With the deactivation of the import alert, AquAdvantage Salmon eggs may be imported to the company’s grow-out facility in Indiana to be raised into salmon for food, Gottlieb said.

Sylvia Wulf, chief executive officer of AquaBounty, said the company would immediately begin the process of importing AquAdvatage eggs from its hatchery in Canada to grow out at its facilities in Indiana.

Senators Patty Murray, D-WA, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, meanwhile blasted the FDA decision as a threat to wild salmon populations.

“Imported, genetically engineered salmon are a serious threat to our state’s wild salmon populations, which are a source of pride and an important part of our culture and economy,” Murray said. “I’ve fought every step of the way to keep ‘Frankenfish’ away from Washington state, and the administration should know I will continue to fight to protect wild Pacific salmon and Washington consumers.”

Murkowski said she was extremely disappointed in what she called a short-sighted decision. “It is wrong-headed and a bad idea, simple as that. I am not going to back down and will continue my fight to ensure that any salmon product that is genetically engineered be clearly labeled,” she said.

United Fishermen of Alaska issued a statement saying that the FDA’s decision to lift the import ban on “frankenfish” without requiring clear labeling to show that these products are genetically engineered “is a disservice to consumers and a blow to Alaska’s hardworking fishing communities.”

The Center for Food Safety in Washington DC also criticized FDA’s action, noting that the US Department of Agriculture’s new guidelines do not require “adequate mandatory labeling, don’t require calling the fish “genetically engineered” and don’t help consumers know what kind of fish they are buying.