February 5, 2016
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an alert temporarily halting imports of the genetically engineered (GE) salmon, which it had approved late last year for human consumption, pending the publication of the final rules regarding product labelling.
In making the import alert, the FDA stated that the temporary ban was being implemented to comply with language in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The particular language directed the FDA to issue final guidance for GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling of AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon raised by the Massachusetts-based aquaculture firm AquaBounty Technologies.
The FDA's approval of the GM salmon did not require any GMO labeling as its current policy does not require labeling for method of production if there is no material difference compared with traditional foods. The FDA had found AquAdvantage Salmon safe to consume as the traditionally farmed Atlantic salmon.
Dr. Ronald L. Stotish, CEO of AquaBounty, said, "The decision has no impact on AquaBounty's operations as we are not currently importing our salmon into the United States. The FDA is working to complete the guidelines required by the Appropriations Act."
Earlier some US legislators including Sen. Lisa Murkowski demanded that the GM salmon products be subjected to specific labeling, and pushed for language in the omnibus spending act that prevented the sale of GM salmon until the FDA issues new labeling guidelines.
AquAdvantage Salmon is raised in Canada and Panama in land-based, contained hatchery tanks.
It was approved for production and human consumption by the FDA on November 19, 2015, after a thorough scientific review over a period of 20 years. In its announcement, the FDA stated that AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe and nutritious to eat as any non-GE Atlantic salmon.