After a long, continuous debate on allowing genetically-engineered salmon as food, the Food and Drug Administration of Canada has issued a green light for the product.
The first genetically modified (GM) salmon has finally hit the supermarket shelves in Canada after years of opposition and delays.
The salmon has been cleared as safe by the FDA and other regulators, but still faces opposition from groups generally opposed to GM foods.
It can be remembered that GM food have faced 25 years of pushback from environmentalists and various controversies, genetically modified (GM) salmon have at last made it to shelves on the Canadian marketplace.
AquaBounty Technologies has sold approximately five tons of “AquAdvantage Salmon” in Canada since its approval there last year.
Although the fish were cleared by the FDA in late 2015, conflicts about labeling the fillets have stalled sales in the U.S.
The Maynard, Massachusetts company is the force bringing the GM Atlantic salmon to market. The salmon boast two extra genes that allow them to grow faster: a chinook salmon growth hormone gene that speeds their growth, and a gene from the ocean pout that keeps the chinook growth hormone gene “on” permanently.
Based on the salient features of the product, end result of these changes is that the engineered AquAdvantage Salmon grow two times faster than typical salmon while consuming 20 to 25 percent less food.
These AquAdvantage Salmon are the first GM animal in the world to go on sale. As such, the product has garnered serious opposition from environmental groups.
Also, beyond the labeling issue, these opponents fear that the fish pose a contamination risk to natural populations should they escape from their breeding tanks.
However, as the fish are rendered sterile, and the FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have inspected the facility and judged its containment measures to be adequate.
Tracking the GM food controversy,it is not the first time that it received a fiery opposition.
Although a comprehensive analysis from 2016 penned by 20 scientists and based on more than 1,000 studies, testimony from 80 witnesses in public meetings and webinars, and 700 comments submitted by the public found that GM crops are safe to eat and do not harm the environment, many in the public remain unconvinced.
Meanwhile, farmers in India are beginning to plant GM mustard crops, and scientists are working to prove the safety of wheat “supercrops.”
With the success penetration of GM salmon in the Canadian market, it is hope that other species will also join the product on the market’s shelves.