FDA Approves 1st Genetically Altered Animal for Eating

It 2 decades for the FDA to approve what opponents decry as a 'frankenfish'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2015 2:28 PM CST
FDA Approves 1st Genetically Altered Animal for Eating
This photo from AquaBounty shows two same-age salmon, the larger a genetically altered AquAdvantage salmon. The FDA approved the AquAdvantage salmon for human consumption Thursday.   (AP Photo/AquaBounty Technologies)

The FDA made history Thursday when, for the first time ever, it approved a genetically altered animal for human consumption, the Washington Post reports. After two decades of what the FDA calls "exhaustive and rigorous scientific review" the AquAdvantage salmon will be hitting supermarket seafood cases. According to ABC News, the AquAdvantage is an Atlantic salmon with a Chinook salmon growth hormone that allows it to grow all year and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout to activate that growth hormone. Basically this means the AquAdvantage will be big enough to eat in a year and a half instead of the three years required for a normal Atlantic salmon. The AquAdvantage is a "game changer"—nutritious food that's environmentally responsible, says Ron Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty, which makes the genetically altered salmon.

The Post reports the approval of the AquAdvantage was opposed by everyone from food-safety activists to the salmon fishing industry. "I think it is a grave mistake we will come to regret," says one environmental group representative. Opponents call the AquAdvantage a "frankenfish" (though technically it would be a "Frankenfish's monster," but that's neither here nor there) and worry it could get loose and destroy the wild Atlantic salmon population. AquaBounty assures opponents that all its salmon are bred female and sterile, making their survival in the wild impossible (which sounds ominously familiar). According to ABC, laws don't require stores to label the AquAdvantage, and it's likely consumers won't even know they're eating it. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target, and others have already vowed not to sell the genetically altered salmon, the Post reports. (More genetically modified food stories.)

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