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Safety of a transgenic or genetically modified salmon : the AquAdvantage salmon
Context - The US food and drugs administration has approved the first GM-animal product to enter the food supply of the US: an Atlantic salmon with a genetic modification to make it grow faster.
Is it safe for human consumption and for the environment?
What is the product that was deemed safe for human consumption?
The salmon that was evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration of the US
(US-FDA) is a
genetically modified (“engineered” or
also “transgenic”) Atlantic salmon. This
fish, AquAdvantage Salmon, is to be produced and grown in closed inland
installations, under specified conditions. The specific modification that it
carries is a construct between a gene from
a Chinook salmon that produces growth
hormone, and a regulation sequence from
ocean pout and chinook salmon, that means that the growth hormone gene is more
active than in non-modified fish The objective of the project is to meet
increasing demand for fish protein in light
of declining stocks and diminishing capture of wild fish. Effectively, this
means that production is faster since the fish reaches market size faster. These
genetically modified fish are all
triploid females, which means that they are effectively sterile, which is a
strategy already used in aquaculture to
prevent farmed fish to inderbreed with wild populations.
It is the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) that has evaluated both the direct and indirect food safety impacts of AquAdvantage Salmon.
It is the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) that has evaluated both
the direct and indirect food safety impacts of AquAdvantage Salmon.
Such evaluation is a seven steps process:
- An evaluation of the genetic construct itself that is used to modify
- What happens to this genetic
material once it is incorporated into the animal, and how it behaves
over multiple generations.
- Whether the genetic modification is safe for the animal.
- A review of the plan of the producer to ensure that the GE animals
produced in the future will be equivalent to those evaluated in the
- Whether the transgenic animals are
safe to eat.
- The potential for the GE animal to cause significant
environmental impacts. This
considers the risks that the animals would escape confinement, whether they
can survive in the wild, and whether they can breed in the wild.
- Finally, the producer submits information and data to support of their
claims for the transgenic animal. For an animal that is intended to grow
faster, the agency evaluates data to determine if the GE animals do indeed
reach some size or weight more rapidly than their conventional
What are the conclusions of the US-FDA evaluation of transgenic salmon?
Based on the evidence collected and evaluated, the
US-FDA has reached the conclusion that
it is reasonable to believe that approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon will not
have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the
United States (including populations of
endangered Atlantic salmon) when produced
and grown under the conditions of use for the proposed action.
With respect to food safety, the US-FDA
has concluded that food from this transgenic
salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a
reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption of food from triploid
AquAdvantage Salmon. Further, the US- FDA has concluded that no significant food
safety hazards or risks have been identified with respect to the phenotype of
the AquAdvantage Salmon.
The US- FDA, having reviewed the
materials submitted in support of an NADA for AquAdvantage Salmon, has also made
a “no effect” determination under the Endangered
Species Act (ESA), that approval of the
AquAdvantage Salmon NADA will not jeopardize the continued existence of United
States populations of threatened or endangered Atlantic salmon, or result in the
destruction or adverse modification of their critical habitat, when produced and
reared under the conditions described in the
environmental assessment (so in closed
inland facilities, in Canada and Panama).
This type of salmon was approved in November 2015 for production and human
see the FDA information page on the AquAdvantage salmon