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Genetically Modified Salmon Available to Eat for the First Time

genetically modified
Artizone / Flickr

In early August, the first genetically modified salmon for human consumption was sold in Canada.

AquaBounty Technologies, based in the United States, sold the genetically modified salmon fillets. The company received approval in 2016 for the sale of the fish. Where the fillets were sold in Canada hasn’t been disclosed.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sale of the genetically modified fish in 2015. However, sales are on hold until acceptable labeling guidelines are produced.

AquaBounty says it has been trying to gain approval for sale of the salmon for 25 years.

How are the salmon modified?

AquaBounty made a fish with two extra genes. First, a chinook salmon gene promotes growth. The second gene comes from the ocean pout. This gene, according to the company, keeps the growth gene active all the time. This allows the fish to reach maturity more quickly.

Advocacy groups have raised concerns about eating modified salmon. However, FDA and Canadian agency testing haven’t shown any dangers. Another challenge comes from environmental groups. They are concerned about the risk if the genetically modified fish get into the wild.

AquaBounty says it raises its fish to be sterile. In addition, the fish are raised in indoor facilities.

The modified salmon could help wild salmon populations, reducing fishing pressure on the wild fish.

The impact of fish farms for the salmon has yet to be determined.

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Genetically Modified Salmon Available to Eat for the First Time