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US regulators clear the pathway for genetically modified salmon

NEW YORK (AP) – US regulators on Friday gave the green light that the salmon is genetically modified to grow about twice as fast as normal, but the company behind it can face legal challenges before the fish can be sold at home. The Food and Drug Administration said it raised a warning that had prevented AquaBounty from importing its salmon eggs into its Indiana plant, where they would be grown before being sold as food. The agency noted that the salmon has already undergone safety reports and that it raised its warning because the fish would be subject to a new regulation that will require companies to disclose when a food is bioengineered. The move comes despite an ongoing process of a coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups that challenged the FDA's approval of the fish. "We believe that a cure in our case would stop the sale of the fish before they can be sold," said George Kimbrell, legal director of the Food Safety Center, one of the FDA-affiliated groups. AquaBounty was founded in 1 991 and has worked through years of safety reports and regulatory obstacles to selling its fish in the United States. In 2015, the salmon was the first genetically modified animal approved by the FDA for consumption. But the agency then issued a warning that stopped Maynard, Massachusetts-based companies from importing their fish eggs until the GM Food Adoption Guidelines were resolved. Called AquAdvantage, the fish is Atlantic salmon modified with DNA from…

NEW YORK (AP) – US regulators on Friday gave the green light that the salmon is genetically modified to grow about twice as fast as normal, but the company behind it can face legal challenges before the fish can be sold at home.

The Food and Drug Administration said it raised a warning that had prevented AquaBounty from importing its salmon eggs into its Indiana plant, where they would be grown before being sold as food. The agency noted that the salmon has already undergone safety reports and that it raised its warning because the fish would be subject to a new regulation that will require companies to disclose when a food is bioengineered.

The move comes despite an ongoing process of a coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups that challenged the FDA’s approval of the fish.

“We believe that a cure in our case would stop the sale of the fish before they can be sold,” said George Kimbrell, legal director of the Food Safety Center, one of the FDA-affiliated groups.

AquaBounty was founded in 1

991 and has worked through years of safety reports and regulatory obstacles to selling its fish in the United States. In 2015, the salmon was the first genetically modified animal approved by the FDA for consumption. But the agency then issued a warning that stopped Maynard, Massachusetts-based companies from importing their fish eggs until the GM Food Adoption Guidelines were resolved.

Called AquAdvantage, the fish is Atlantic salmon modified with DNA from other fish species to grow faster, which the company says will help feed growing demand for animal protein while reducing costs.

CEO Sylvia Wulf said the company expects to get a final certification for its growing plant Albany, Indiana, over the next few weeks. Salmon eggs can then be sent from the company’s research and development facility in Canada and would be harvested after about 18 months when they reach 10 pounds, she said.

Wulf said it was difficult to engage companies in sales discussions because AquaBounty does not know when it can start growing the fish in the US. She said that the salmon has already been sold in limited quantities in Canada, where it does not need to be labeled as genetically modified. Wulf said she did not expect the ongoing trial to affect the company’s US plans.

The genetically modified salmon is raised in tanks and bred to be female and sterile, measures aimed at addressing any fear that they may enter the environment and collapse with wild fish.

But Kimbrell, from the Food Safety Center, said that the company’s own tests showed that it is not 100% certain that the fish would be sterile and that it is about getting into the environment would grow if the company’s business were to expand.

He also noted that the publication regulation uses the term “bioengineered”, although most are more familiar with the term genetically modified. And he pointed out that companies can provide information through codes that must be scanned.

Implementation of this regulation begins in 2020, although people may begin to see information about packaging earlier. The conformity becomes mandatory in 2022.

The genetic modification for AquaBountys fish differs from the genetic engineering technique, which allows researchers to send out specific genes to obtain properties without introducing foreign DNA. Companies also work to develop a variety of genetically modified crops and animals.

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Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi

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Associated Press The Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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