The FDA Just Okayed Genetically Modified Salmon For Your Plate

Photo: Star Pix / Alamy Stock Photo.
Up until now, the debate about genetically modified foods stuck to crops and produce. Expect that to change: On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the nation's first genetically altered animal for consumption.

Salmon that has been genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as regular fish is now officially safe to eat, according to the FDA, which said in a statement that there are "no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon."

AquAdvantage Salmon was made by a Massachusetts company called AquaBounty. The company's CEO has called the ruling a "game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats."

Because the modified salmon grows twice as fast, it reaches market size more quickly. And if you're wondering how growers manage to accomplish that, here's the answer: The bio-engineering team at AquaBounty added a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon — and voila!

Naturally, critics are calling the salmon "frankenfish," and those opposed to GMOs are worried that this move will open the floodgates in terms of other genetically modified animals. Still, the FDA insists its decision was made based on "sound science" and adds that the fish is unlikely to harm the environment. The Obama Administration has been weighing whether or not to give the okay to these modified salmon for more than five years, and now they've finally made a move.

The debate between the public and scientists over genetically modified food has flared recently: Just a few months ago, Chipotle made a very public statement about nixing GMOs from its menu. Also over the summer, the House passed a bill that blocks mandatory labeling of GMOs.

Salmon is one of the most popular and expensive fish available. So it will be interesting to see how more salmon — and larger salmon — in your supermarket will affect the fish's popularity and pricing.
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