US go ahead for GM salmon facility

THE company behind the world’s first genetically modified salmon has won approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rear its fish in the American state of Indiana.
AquaBounty Technologies, which set up in Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1996, had applied to the US authorities for a supplemental New Animal Drug Application (NADA).
The firm had been granted approval to import and sell its AquAdvantage salmon in the United States in 2015 but not to produce its salmon.
The company was prohibited from importing the eggs necessary for producing genetically engineered salmon at the facility because of a requirement in the FDA’s current appropriations law.
The FDA approval now approves domestic production at a land based facility near Albany, Indiana.
The FDA is required to review NADAs for safety and effectiveness, and because AquaBounty met these and other statutory requirements, the application was approved.
Until now, only AquaBounty’s facility on Prince Edward Island, where the salmon eggs are produced, and the company’s grow-out facility in Panama, where fish hatch from the eggs and grow to maturity, could be used for producing AquAdvantage salmon.
The approval, announced on April 26, does not authorise the production or grow-out of AquAdvantage salmon in any other domestic or international facilities.
The Indiana facility as currently configured has a production capacity of 1,200 tonnes per year and was designed to allow significant expansion.
With the facility now approved, commercial production of AquAdvantage salmon awaits only official labeling guidelines by the FDA.
AquaBounty CEO Ron Stotish said: ‘This is another milestone in our journey to bring our healthy and sustainable salmon to consumers.
‘We are very pleased the FDA has continued their rigorous, science based review process and approved our application on its merits.
‘Our Albany facility is within a few hours’ drive of major markets in Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Louisville, and St Louis, providing us with tremendous opportunity for growth.
‘We still have work to do before we can start production, but we take great pride in this latest accomplishment.’
AquaBounty claims its salmon can grow twice as fast as conventionally farmed Atlantic salmon, reaching adult size in 18 months as compared to 30 months.
The product also requires 25 per cent less feed to grow to the size of wild salmon, and could have a carbon footprint of up to 25 times less, the company has said.
The first GM salmon were sold in Canadian supermarkets last August, after the GM product was approved for sale in the country in 2016, making it the first genetically engineered animal to enter the food supply.
Picture: Ron Stotish, president and executive director of AquaBounty technologies