Genetically engineered salmon gets positive review from US regulator

First Posted: Dec 22, 2012 08:41 PM EST

Genetically modified salmon, growing extra fast, could soon come to the American market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft report on Friday, finding that the fish wouldn't hurt the environment and will be safe to eat.

Members of the biotech community applauded the outcome, and the developing company AquaBounty Technologies Inc. based in Massachusetts could finally start production and sale of their product after a long process that is already dragging on for a decade - if the FDA decides to give their final approval after a 60-day period of public comment now started.

This comments period will most probably turn heated, as their is significant opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMO) and animals. More than 400,000 public comments urging regulators not to approve the fish have already been submitted to the FDA since the agency opened discussion of the issue in 2010, according to George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Washington-based Center for Food Safety.

But while GMO food like corn and soy beans are already predominant on the U.S. market, the genetically modified fish will be just a pilot project for now, since only one small facitlity will be approved by the now released FDA draft. The fish would be raised outside of the U.S. in Panama, and only in inland tanks separated from the ocean. On the other hand, should this proof of concept be successful, and the fish being accepted by consumers, it would set an example for other companies to follow.

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