After 26 Years of FDA Delays, U.S. Consumers Can Finally Buy Genetically Enhanced AquaBounty Salmon

And it's already sold out.


Way back in 1995, biotech company AquaBounty began the process of seeking regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow the company to sell its AquAdvantage genetically enhanced Atlantic salmon to U.S. consumers. By integrating a Pacific Chinook salmon growth hormone gene into the genome of an Atlantic salmon, AquaBounty has reduced the fish's time to market from three years to 18 months. AquaBounty can produce up to 70 percent more fresh salmon annually compared to conventional Atlantic salmon grown in the same period.

The FDA ruled in 2015 that the company's fish were safe to eat, but raising the fish at AquaBounty's self-contained freshwater facilities in Indiana was stymied until 2019 by U.S. Department of Agriculture delays in formulating biotech food labeling regulations.

The company has now announced that its first planned U.S. harvest of five metric tons of fish is sold out. "AquaBounty's genetically engineered salmon is a reliable and efficient source of salmon that is a product of the U.S.A., tastes delicious and looks great. We can't wait to share this with our customers," says Joe Lasprogata, vice president of new product development at Samuels and Son Seafood, a Philadelphia-based seafood distributor of AquaBounty's Atlantic salmon, in the company's press release.

It's amazing that AquaBounty could afford the 30-year slog through the ridiculously hypercautious FDA regulatory maze. The AquaBounty precedent is quite worrisome with respect to how the agency will treat fast-developing new food technologies like cell-based meats.

Personally, I dislike the flavor of salmon. But I plan to eat an AquAdvantage fillet as soon as I can lay my hands on one.

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  1. There are clear priorities – government jobs must be protected. Not having GM salmon to sell creates problems only for investors, but clearing it for sale might reflect on the agency.
    Clearly not approving presents less risk.This model is what drives all agencies.

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      1. Neat. This better make salmon prices go down. But why eat the salmon if you don’t like salmon?? Dweebish.

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  2. 26 years to approve fish, 9 months to approve a vaccine…

    1. Hey, Bureaucrats gotta… something…

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    2. 26 years to approve fish, 1 hour to tune a piano.

      1. Your joke is completely backwards, salmon swim against the current, pianos swim with it.

        1. +1

        2. Pianos are dulswimmers.

  3. Never eat something you dislike, or refuse to eat something you do like, to make some ideological point. Food is more important than politics.

    1. “Food is more important than politics.”

      Apparently not when it comes to the FDA.

    2. In most case I agree, but journalist should do what they can to inform themselves on the subject they are writing on. Sampling the fish is part of that.

      1. I disagree. I spent some time as an undergrad intern doing genetics with fish. Barring some rather intentionally freaky genetics work like trying to induce lemonene (lemon peel/zest) production, it’s going to feel and taste like salmon.

        One researcher used to joke about how he would routinely get asked if they could genetically modify the flavor of fish. He always said he could do it faster and more efficiently through their diet. The big problem is, everybody thinks they know what they want fish to taste like until they try it.

  4. Good to see this, but I’ll stick with sockeye salmon.

    1. The nutritional profile is apparently different too. The production methods are sketchy too.

  5. Made from shit! Yeah!

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  6. new food technologies like cell-based meats.

    New technology, to be sure Ron.

    1. If he puts a thin slice of meat under a microscope, he’ll find he’s been eating cell-based meats this whole time.

      1. C’mon man. Don’t make fun of the science guy!

      2. Nothing says, “I oppose the FDA’s need or ability to regulate inaccurate and duplicitous food labels.” like inventing new ones.

    2. Soylent pink?

  7. Eat your franken-salmon and wash it down with corn syrup.
    I’ll stick to wild caught, thank you.

    1. Mmmmm….. Parasites….

  8. After 26 Years of FDA Delays, U.S. Consumers Can Finally Buy Genetically Enhanced AquaBounty Salmon

    I dunno…Without cryonics, 26-year-old salmon would be pretty damn funky.

  9. “Personally, I dislike the flavor of salmon.”

    Well then you might actually like this. Not to say that it will be bad, just that with such a fast growing time, combined with a singular diet of fish pellet, it will probably not taste much like a wild caught salmon.

    My bold prediction is that it was be bland. Bland like typical store bought pork loin is.

    I would go so far as to say that if you pureed it ( to eliminate textural differences) the flavor would be mostly indistinguishable from any other farm raised salmonid.

    1. Anyone who doesnt like salmon can be ignored

    2. It would take a thorough exsalmonation to differentiate the two?

  10. Eating a product you don’t like is a very peculiar form of virtue signalling. And while this fish is safe to eat, if bland and unpalatable, the main problem is that they’re not grown in isolated tanks but in net pens where they routinely escape into the wild. You can guess the effect of these mutant Frankenfish upon natural wild stocks- the wild fish fare poorly against the Frankenfish that grow three times faster.

    Maybe I’m looking at it wrong. Maybe fuck nature if it can’t compete with the Invisible Hand of Free and Fair Markets.

    1. Or maybe the Frankenfish starve to death without a fish-farmer dumping in extra food. Cranking up the growth rate is a small genetic change that must have occurred before in natural mutations. There’s a reason those mutations didn’t thrive.

      1. Pretty well known that size limits are/can be effective at driving down the size of fish populations.

    2. I mean, the FDA approval states that it will be produced in an indoor enclosure in the middle of Indiana, so the net probability of escape is … zero.

      1. Not to mention the relatively enormous and actual harm posed by Asian carp, (lack of) predation by ‘protected’ species, other loss of habitat, etc.

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