FDA Allows Genetically Modified Salmon to Be Imported Into US

FDA removes restrictions on genetically modified salmon

FDA removes restrictions on genetically modified salmon

The Food and Drug Administration in the USA announced on Friday that it is lifting an import ban that prevented a brand of genetically modified salmon - dubbed "Frankenfish" by some - from reaching US shopping selves, CNN reported.

"Additionally, as part of its approval, the FDA also analyzed the potential environmental impact that an approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon application would have on the USA environment and published its final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact in November 2015".

"The Golden Gate Salmon Association and allied groups are now in court challenging the approval of farmed salmon carrying foreign genes that change the basic DNA of the fish", said John McManus, president, Golden Gate Salmon Association.

"A loophole has now been created that will allow the first genetically modified animal engineered for human consumption to enter the US market: GMO Atlantic salmon", the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations executive director Noah Oppenheim told the SF Bay Area Independent Media Center. As a result, FDA implemented the import alert that prevented GE salmon from entering the U.S. With the import alert still in place, in 2018, FDA approved a supplemental NADA submitted by Maynard, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. requesting FDA's approval to raise AquaAdvantage Salmon at a land-based contained facility near Albany, Indiana.

FDA stated, in a press release, that it believes that the Congressional mandate was satisfied when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the final rule implementing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (for more information on the final rule, see our December 20, 2018 blog).

What's more, the FDA said it analyzed the potential impact the genetically modified salmon would have on the environment and it found no "significant impact". The FDA, after years of review, had deemed food from the AquaAdvantage Salmon safe to eat in 2015 and said there is no biological difference between these salmon and nongenetically engineered salmon.

Congress said rules on how genetically modified food is labeled had to be implemented first.

On Friday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said because of the 2016 law and the USDA's standard, his agency "no longer has the authority to issue labeling guidance". Therefore, the FDA is deactivating the import alert that prevented food from AquAdvantage Salmon, including salmon eggs used to grow the fish, from entering the U.S. Salmon eggs could then be sent from the company's research and development facility in Canada, and would be harvested after about 18 months when they reach 10 pounds, she said. However, as of now, only a limited number of the genetically modified salmons are available in Canadian markets.

However, they're also bred to be female and sterile, theoretically eliminating he possibility that they'll breed with wild salmon.

George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, one of the groups suing the FDA, said the company's tests shows it's not 100 percent certain the fish would be sterile, and concerns about it getting in the environment would grow if the AquaBounty's operations were to expand. Wulf said she doesn't expect the pending lawsuit to affect the company's US plans.