FDA Deems New Genetically Engineered Salmon Safe to Eat

The agency said Thursday that AquaBounty Technologies’s AquAdvantage salmon meets the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Atlantic salmon’s DNA is genetically engineered to reach market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

FDA said AquAdvantage salmon is as safe to eat and as nutritious as food from other non-GE Atlantic salmon and that there are no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon.               

This salmon can only be raised in land-based, contained hatchery tanks in two specific facilities in Canada and Panama. In order to farm the fish in the U.S., FDA officials said the Massachusetts-based company will need to submit another application to the agency, which would trigger an environmental review.  

The fish will be contained in tanks equipped with physical barriers to prevent them or their eggs from escaping into the environment. FDA said that AquAdvantage salmon are reproductively sterile females, so even in the highly unlikely event of an escape, they would be unable to interbreed or establish populations in the wild.

In addition to deeming a new genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat, the FDA released draft guidance Thursday on how companies should go about voluntarily labeling whether a food has been made from genetically engineered salmon and final guidance on how companies should voluntarily label food that comes from a genetically engineered plants.