20 Years Later, GM AquAdvantage Salmon Approved

The AquAdvantage salmon has been under federal regulatory review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1996 and has now gained approval. How is it different from legacy Atlantic salmon? It carries a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon that speeds growth and improves feed efficiency by up to 100 percent.

It does so by using a 'promoter' stretch of DNA from an Ocean Pout which allows the Chinook gene to be expressed. That's it. And yet adding this one gene to the 40,000 the Atlantic Salmon has led to anti-science groups raising money by calling it "Frankenfish."

The FDA has completed a legendarily-long scientific review and determined what everyone in science knew - it's no different than any other fish, it just grows bigger faster thanks to genetic modification. The FDA review showed this fish met all of the criteria for approval; the inserted genes remained stable over generations, it's no different than any other salmon when it comes to being eaten by humans or animals, it's safe for the fish, and faster growth is not just a marketing claim.

aquadvantage salmon chart

Credit: AquaBounty Technologies via Genetic Literacy Project

And it's good for the public. We all know that more fish in our diets is beneficial but there are limits to what wild fishing can accomplish. The U.S. currently imports 95% of the Atlantic salmon we consume. A science approach and better farming offer the opportunity for much more domestic aquaculture industry and satisfies dietary health concerns without wondering how many other fish were killed to import salmon.

Want locally grown and sustainable salmon? This is the way to attain it.

This win for science by AquaBounty Technologies on salmon follows on the heels of similar victories for apples and potatoes. We have always been promised that the 21st century would be the Age of Biology when it comes to agriculture, and we are starting to realize that vision.

Standing in the way are lobbyists and lawyers for the anti-science groups who have been demonizing this for years - they have promised they will use their giant coffers to tie it up in courts, regardless of what data have already shown to be true.