The Food and Drug Administration set a precedent on Thursday by officially approving the sale of the first genetically engineered animal for food production with approval of Atlantic salmon for commercial sale.
The salmon, which is engineered to grow quicker and larger than a typical wild salmon, has been the brainchild of the company AquaBounty Technologies, which has pushed for years to get federal approval of the salmon.
FDA declared in its announcement that the AquAdvantage salmon is as safe and as nutritious to eat as any other salmon. FDA also stated its scientists "rigorously evaluated extensive data" provided by AquaBounty in making its decision and used other peer-reviewed data to assess the safety of the food. FDA also studied the environmental impacts, particularly the risks that the AquaBounty salmon could escape into the wild and breed. FDA stated that because the company is using land-based locations in Panama and Canada that it would be "extremely unlikely" the fish could get into the wild.
FDA also stated that because the fish is effectively the same as a wild salmon, that the agency would not require any labels.
FDA's announcement can be found here: http://www.fda.gov/…
It didn't take long for anti-biotech critics to pounce on Thursday. The California-based Center for Food Safety declared it and other groups would immediately sue FDA to block the agency's decision. Opponents claim that FDA did not adequately assess either the food safety or environmental consequences of decision, despite years of agency work studying the salmon. The Center for Food Safety described the genetically-engineered fish as a "contaminant."
"The fallout from this decision will have enormous impact on the environment. Center for Food Safety has no choice but to file suit to stop the introduction of this dangerous contaminant," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. "FDA has neglected its responsibility to protect the public."
Groups such as the Center for Food Safety have been putting pressure on grocery stores and restaurants to avoid selling the salmon once it is commercialized.
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