The new AquAdvantage Salmon species
The United States FDA today authorised the very first genetically-modified animal species to be farmed for US dinner plates. Developed by AquaBounty Technologies, the AquAdvantage Salmon, as it is known, reduces the time it takes to grow farmed salmon to full size by half by incorporating a growth gene from the faster-growing Chinook Salmon as well as a genetic promoter from the Ocean Pout. The controversial authorisation has only come about after twenty years of evaluation by the FDA so was by no means a decision taken lightly. Following its own extensive examination as well as the publishing of the all the data for the public to review, the FDA finally decided that the AquAdvantage Salmon was as harmless to people and the environment as farmed Atlantic Salmon. In particular, the agency outlined that its nutritional profile and importantly the endocrine hormones it produces like oestrogen, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor, were no different to that of Atlantic Salmon. One of the terms of the authorisation is that the salmon be raised in land-based holdings instead of farmed in the open as with current salmon farming so as to protect against any chance of them getting into the natural environment. The FDA also decided that there was no need for the modified fish to be labelled any differently from natural salmon allowing producers to make the decision themselves. Making the decision even more controversial, the FDA decided this after determining that the fish were not physiologically distinct from wild Atlantic Salmon other than in their genetics.