The US Food and Drug Administration approved a genetically modified salmon brand Thursday, the first approval in the US for a genetically engineered animal intended for food.

Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage Salmon is an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The FDA regulates GE animals under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, because the recombinant DNA (rDNA) construct introduced into the animal meets the definition of a drug. In this case, the rDNA construct introduces a trait that makes the AquAdvantage Salmon grow faster. 

“The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” says Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, the FDA determined that AquAdvantage Salmon meets the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Ronald L. Stotish, CEO AquaBounty, says “AquAdvantage Salmon is a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats.  Using land-based aquaculture systems, this rich source of protein and other nutrients can be farmed close to major consumer markets in a more sustainable manner.”

The US currently imports more than 90 percent of all the seafood it consumes.  Stotish says AquAdvantage Salmon will offer the opportunity for an economically viable domestic aquaculture industry.