Over the holidays, the U.S. Food and Drink Administration took one step closer to approving genetically engineered salmon for public sale. The agency released a report saying that the fish wasn't likely to pose a threat to the environment or to the people who eat it. These GE salmon, called AquAdvantage, contain a growth hormone from Chinook salmon as well as a genetic switch from pout, an eel-like creature, that keeps the growth hormone "on" all the time -- meaning that the salmon could come to maturity in 18 months instead of three years. If approved, this would be the first food from a transgenic animal (one whose genome has been altered) available for public consumption.
"With respect to food safety, FDA 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 FDA assessment reads.
But for many, this isn't good enough. GE salmon has been a controversial issue for some time -- critics refer to it as "frankenfish" -- and along with health concerns, critics are worried that the genetically altered salmon could escape and breed with wild salmon, although the FDA said the possibility of this was "extremely remote." Some also have ethical opposition to altering the genetic code of a living creature.
Supporters point out that genetically engineered salmon is virtually indistinguishable from conventional salmon in taste and texture, and this could make the lean protein cheaper and more accessible to consumers.
The FDA has 60 days to collect public opinion before they make a final decision. Submit your written comments to the agency at the Regulations.gov website.