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expert reaction to the approval of genetically engineered ‘AquAdvantage’ Salmon by the FDA

The US Food and Drink Administration has approved a new application for a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon named AquAdvantage Salmon.

All our previous output on this subject can be seen here.


Dr Joe Perry, former Chair of the European Food Safety Authority GMO Panel said:

“There remain legitimate ecological concerns over the possible consequences if these GM salmon escape to the wild and reproduce, despite FDA assurances over containment and sterility, neither of which can be guaranteed. The European Food Safety Authority has developed risk assessment guidance for GM animals which is balanced and grounded on sound scientific principles. This benefitted greatly from the advice of Professor Anne Kapuscinsky on GM fish. My view is that if an application were to be made for such GM salmon to be released in Europe, then the risk assessment would require considerably more data to demonstrate the efficacy of the induced sterility in these GM salmon than were required by the FDA.”


Prof. Bruce Whitelaw, Professor of Animal Biotechnology, Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“The announcement today that the first transgenic animal can enter our food chain has been a long time coming. AquaBounty have successfully navigated through a wealth of challenges – political, financial, regulatory, scientific – all under acute public scrutiny, to arrive at this point. Now it is up to the market to determine how successful this product will be and what contribution it will make to our society. In addition, this announcement signals that such products can be produced safely in our environment and are considered likely to contribute to society’s needs. Many will watch in keen anticipation for further successes with genetic engineering technologies.”


Haydn Parry, Chief Executive, Oxitec Ltd, said:

“It is encouraging to see scientific breakthroughs coming through the regulatory system to provide the public with improved products that support farming in a more responsible and sustainable way.”


Prof. Helen Sang, Personal Chair in Vertebrate Molecular Development, Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“AquaBounty has been the first company to attempt to commercialise a genetically-modified animal for food. They developed a form of salmon that grows faster and is much more efficient in the conversion of feed to protein, compared to conventional salmon. The company has provided extensive information for evaluation of the safety of the salmon as a food and of the potential environmental risks. These data have been made freely available and scrutinised by regulators and external groups. It is very encouraging to see that the process of evaluating risks has at last been completed and that the use of genetic modification for breed improvement can be progressed after careful evaluation of risks. Genetic modification technologies provide additional tools for breed improvement that have potential to contribute to sustainable and efficient production of animals for food, an increasing challenge for society.”




Declared interests

Dr Perry: “No commercial interests of any kind to declare.”

Prof. Whitelaw: “I am on the Scientific Advisory Board of Immunogenes AG and Recombinetics Inc.”

Haydn Parry: “Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon, which has a majority stake in AquaBounty.”

Prof. Sang is a member of BBSRC Council and receives grant funding from the MRC, Wellcome Trust and BBSRC. She is a collaborator in research projects co-funded by Cobb-Vantress Inc. and by the EW Group.

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