salmon Boston firm gets delay in selling "modified salmon"

This undated handout photo provided by AquaBounty Technologies shows two same-age salmon, a genetically modified salmon, rear, and a non-genetically modified salmon, foreground. The Food and Drug Administration pondered Monday whether to say, for the first time, that it's OK to market a genetically engineered animal as safe for people to eat. (AP Photo/AquaBounty Technologies)

After two days of hearings an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it will not make a decision now on whether genetically- modified salmon can be sold in this country and whether it should carry special labels.

The committee did not vote nor did it make a recommendation saying it still has insufficient data to determine whether this special fast-growing salmon developed by a Boston company is safe to eat.

John Buchanan at AquaBounty Technologies says they are disappointed saying research has been underway for more than 20 years, aimed at FDA approval.

Buchanan says he expects an FDA decision by later this year.

AquaBounty says that genetically modified salmon have the same flavor, texture, color and odor as the conventional fish.

The Atlantic salmon engineered by AquaBounty has an added a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon that allows the fish to produce growth hormone all year long. The engineers were able to keep the hormone active by using another gene from an eel-like fish, an ocean pout, that acts like an “on switch” for the hormone, which conventional salmon produce only some of the time.

Critics have two main concerns about the modified fish: The safety of the food to humans and the salmon’s effect on the environment.
Because the altered fish has never been eaten before, they say, it could include dangerous allergens, especially because seafood is highly allergenic. They also worry that the fish will escape and intermingle with the wild salmon population, which is already endangered. They would grow fast and consume more food to the detriment of the conventional wild salmon, the critics fear.


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