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Transgenic Salmon Reaches Canadian Dinner Plates

Biotech company AquaBounty has sold its first shipments of a controversial genetically modified salmon in Canada after 25 years in regulatory limbo.

Chinook salmon

Photo: Melissa Doroquez

AquaBounty used genes from from the cold-water Chinook salmon that promotes fast growth.

A company that developed the first genetically modified salmon, a product still not approved for sale in the U.S, has announced 4.5 tons of filets have already been sold in Canada.

U.S. biotech firm AquaBounty spliced a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon into an Atlantic salmon and turned it up to overdrive.

The so-called AquaAdvantage fish, which opponents pejoratively call Frankenfish, grow up to six times faster than their wild peers and reach market weight in half the time.

The US Food and Drug Administration cleared transgenic salmon for sale in the fall of 2015, but it still has to get through labeling and other regulatory hurdles before it reaches shelves in the US.

Advocacy groups have pressured major US grocers to spurn the fast-growing salmon publicly.

Groups including the Food and Water Watch, the Center for Food Safety and the Consumer’s Union have warned that the product could pose yet-unseen health risks and environmental damage if it escaped from fish farms into the wild.

AquaBounty raised the fish in tanks in a small facility in Panama and plans to expand a site on Canada’s Prince Edward Island after receiving local government approval in June.

Read More:

  • About 4.5 Tonnes Of GMO Salmon Consumed In Canada So Far, Company Says (Washington Post)
  • First Genetically Engineered Salmon Sold In Canada (Nature)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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