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FDA approves genetically engineered salmon

Nov 19, 2015

Subsistence-caught Unalaska Sockeye Salmon.
Credit KUCB

In a blow to Alaska’s salmon industry, the Food and Drug Administration announced this morning it has approved genetically modified salmon, finding it is as safe to eat as natural salmon. It's the first altered animal approved for human consumption in the United States.

Alaska’s industry and congressional delegation have derided the product as “frankenfish."

Here's Senator Lisa Murkowski, speaking this morning in a statement recorded for KUCB:

“I am absolutely livid at the FDA’s announcement to approve genetically engineered ‘salmon’— this is nothing more than frankenfish. It's more of a science experiment than fish or food. I have adamantly opposed the approval of this GE salmon, both for the health of Alaskans and Americans and the sustainability of our fisheries. So now that the FDA has made this wrong-headed decision, I think the next step has to be to ensure that Americans know what they are eating. If they are going to be eating fake fish, it needs to be labeled as such. So we are going to continue in advancing a request to the FDA for labeling.

Critics have tried to keep GE fish off the market, questioning both its safety and its potential to damage wild salmon stocks.

The FDA, though, agreed with the Massachusetts-based manufacturer AquaBounty, finding the fish pose little risk to the environment because they would be reared in closed, land-based facilities in Canada and Panama.

The U.S. does not require labeling to identify genetically modified food. The FDA today released draft labeling guidance for manufacturers who choose to label their salmon as genetically engineered or not.