AquaBounty Genetically Engineered Salmon Declared Safe by FDA

AquaBounty Genetically Engineered Salmon Declared Safe by FDA

Genetically engineered animals are one step closer to entering the food supply.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a declaration that modified AquAdvantage fish, developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, would have "no significant impact" on nature, and that it would be "as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon. The salmon grows twice as fast as normal. A hormone from the Pacific Chinook salmon allows the fish to produce growth hormone all year long. Another gene from an eel-like fish, Ocean Pout, acts like an 'on' switch for the hormone.

The FDA is reported to have determined more than two years ago that the fish appeared to be safe for consumption but did nothing until now.

Opposition from groups opposing genetically modified foods may have contributed to the delay, but nothing is known for certain. The declaration by the FDA could be the last hurdle before the fish receives approval for consumption.

AquaBounty claims the fish is safe and that safeguards are in place to protect against environmental problems. The company says that potential for escape into the wild is low but that the fish will all be bred female and sterile.

The salmon could be approved for consumption in 2013 and available for sale in 2014.