The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released its
determination that genetically engineered (GE) salmon produced by
AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., is as safe to eat as conventional salmon
and will have little effect on the environment. Containing genes from
Pacific Chinook salmon and ocean pout that accelerate growth and
maturation, AquAdvantage® salmon is the first GE animal approved for
human consumption.

After spending more than a decade reviewing data on food safety and
environmental impacts, the agency apparently concluded that (i) “the
inserted genes remained stable over several generations of fish,” (ii) “food
from the GE salmon is safe to eat by humans and animals,” (iii) “the
genetic engineering is safe for the fish,” and (iv) “the salmon meets the
sponsor’s claim about faster growth.” FDA also found that the multiple
containment measures taken by land-based production facilities are
sufficient to prevent the fish from mixing with wild populations. See FDA
News Release, November 19, 2015.

As reported in Issue 15 of this Update, AquaBounty’s GE salmon
first drew scrutiny from health and environmental groups as early
as 2003, when the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology issued
a report suggesting that attempts to regulate transgenic fish as “new
animal drugs” may not survive legal challenges. In the wake of FDA’s
announcement, consumer groups are still divided over the regulation
of bioengineered animals. While the Center for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI) praised the rigorous approval process and called for
transparency in marketing the fish, the Center for Food Safety (CFS)
vowed to file a lawsuit against the agency. In addition, a coalition of
Alaskan lawmakers dedicated to banning the sale and importation of
so-called “Frankenfish” have condemned the decision as “harebrained.”

“I am livid at the FDA’s announcement to approve genetically engineered
‘salmon’—what seems to be more science experiment than fish or
food,” said U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “I have adamantly
opposed the approval of GE salmon, both for the health of Americans
and the sustainability of our fisheries, but now that the decision has
been made, the next step must be to ensure that Americans know what
they are consuming. I have introduced both a bill and provision in the
appropriations process to mandate the labeling of Frankenfish, and it is
more imperative than ever, after this potentially disastrous decision, to
make sure they become law.” See CSPI Statement, CFS Press Release and
Sen. Murkowski Press Release, November 19, 2015.


Issue 585

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.