A genetically engineered salmon that grows faster than traditional wild caught and farm raised salmon has hit a roadblock to the dinner table as members of Congress are angling to stop the Food and Drug Administration from approving the “frankenfish,” stating that it could have negative effects on fisheries, and there is not enough known about the fish, according to a report in BusinessWeek.
AquaBounty, the producer of the fish (called AquAdvantage Salmon), has been waiting for FDA approval for more than 15 years, and if approved, it would mark the first animal to be approved by the government for human consumption that is genetically engineered. Genetically modified corn and soybeans are some food products already on the market in the United States. The salmon is reported to grow twice as fast as a regular Atlantic salmon, and to achieve this, the company added a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon that enables the lab-created fish to produce the growth hormone year round. The AquaBounty engineers also added a gene from an ocean pout, an eel-like fish that keeps the growth hormone active. The salmon is also grown in land based fish farms, away from oceans, and the fish that are raised are sterile, female fish, the company said.
The members of Congress opposed to FDA approval include Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Young added an amendment to a spending bill in June that stopped the FDA from spending any money on approving the fish, while Murkowski will add the same amendment to the Senate version of the bill. While there is an obvious economic stake to Young and Murkowski’s home state of Alaska, more than 12 senators have written the FDA with concerns about this fish, ranging from potential food safety issues to the decimation of wild salmon stocks if the genetically modified fish escapes into the wild. The FDA a year ago said the genetically engineered fish is as safe to eat as wild caught salmon. According to an AquaBounty spokesman, the FDA is in the process of completing its review.