Photo: sean dreilinger, Flickr
As we reported back in June, genetically modified Atlantic salmon are on the fast-track to your dinner plate. Massachusetts-based biotech company, AquaBounty Technologies is expected to get the final FDA nod of approval for a salmon that has been genetically tweaked to boost productivity thanks to a growth-hormone gene from a Chinook salmon and a genetic "on switch" from an ocean pout.
If approved, the salmon would be the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption. A coalition of environmental groups, including Food & Water Watch and Center for Food Safety, say the move is alarming and are strongly urging the FDA to reject the fish.
Last week, government scientists spurred debate over genetically modifying animals for food by going on record to say the AquaBounty salmon was safe to eat and posed no threat to the environment, according to a Washington Post article.
The FDA's briefing report says scientists "have found no biologically relevant difference between [the AquaBounty salmon] and conventional Atlantic salmon based on the criteria evaluated."
On Sept. 19-21, the FDA will hold public meetings to address science-based issues surrounding the genetically modified salmon, including environmental concerns, and AquaBounty's claims that the salmon grow faster than conventionally farmed Atlantic salmon.
The safety of the fish for human consumption is not the only issue causing concern for consumer and environmental groups -- there is also hand-wringing over labeling requirements once it reaches the market, and the race to develop other genetically modified animals, including pigs and cattle.