WASHINGTON, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - A genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast as ordinary salmon in the wild is migrating ever closer to dinner plates in the United States.
Dubbed “Frankenfish” by critics, the genetically engineered salmon has received preliminary approval from US food safety officials, who say the fast-growing fish “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States.”
Developed by Boston-based AquaBounty Technologies under the brand name AquAdvantage Salmon, the fish is identical to conventional Atlantic salmon with the exception of an added gene from the Chinook salmon that drives the rapid growth, according to the company.
The new breed has swirled in controversy in recent years, with critics saying it could cause allergies in humans and wreak havoc on the wild salmon population.
But in a report released last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that with respect to food safety, it “has concluded that food from AquAdvantage salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption.”
The fish would be the first genetically modified food animal to be approved for human consumption.
The FDA will now wait 60 days to receive public comments on its assessment before it can finalize its report.
AquaBounty Technologies welcomed the positive report, but US lawmakers—in particular from states in the US Northwest and Alaska, where salmon fishing is an important industry—have vowed to prevent the genetically modified fish from reaching US tables.
“The notion that consuming Frankenfish is safe for the public and our oceans is a joke,” Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska, said in a statement Friday.
The hybrid salmon could face barriers reaching the shelves in the European Union, Russia and Japan, where restrictions on genetically modified foods are generally stricter.