The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has lifted an import alert on genetically modified salmon. This means that the genetically modified fish will eventually find its way into the country’s food supply. The import alert on AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage salmon eggs has been lifted. The fish can now reach the United States some three years after initial approval was granted by the FDA.
The FDA had been told by Congress in 2016 to block the modified salmon until new labeling guidelines were issued. The administration is now of the view that the recently enacted National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard is in line with that directive.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb added that the genetic changes have been found to be safe for the salmon and that they won’t have a “significant” impact on the environment. The modifications that AquaBounty has made use DNA from other fish to speed up the rate at which salmon grow. While this has raised concerns about contamination, these modified salmon are bred to be sterile and female which eliminates the possibility of them breeding with wild salmon.
AquaBounty boss Sylvia Wulf has said that the certification for a growing facility in Indiana is expected to arrive in weeks following which the eggs would be received. It would take around 18 months after that for the salmon to reach their target weight. It remains to be seen if that ends up happening as an alliance of environmental, pro-fishing, and public interest groups are in the process of suing the FDA to pull the approval on safety grounds.