CRF Blog

Why Won’t the Government Let You Eat Superfish?

by Bill Hayes

In Why Won’t the Government Let You Eat Superfish?, a feature story, Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the controversy over genetically engineered salmon.

The product of $78 million of research and development, these may be the world’s most valuable fish eggs. The AquAdvantage fish is a variation of Atlantic salmon, genetically modified to grow to market size in two years rather than three. That means money for salmon farmers, who sell about $12 billion worth of salmon every year. More important, it could relieve pressure on the environmentally taxing process of fish farming, an industry that has doubled in size in the last decade. But the prospect of an engineered fish entering our food supply and, potentially, escaping into the ocean and wiping out wild fish has caused environmental groups to launch a merciless political and public-relations assault on the company.

AquaBounty has been fighting to bring AquAdvantage to market since 1993, two years after the company was founded, but it has yet to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In December 2012 the FDA, in its draft environmental assessment, which is considered the last step before approval, wrote that the salmon was safe to eat and poses no threat to the environment. The agency has made no further announcements over the past year and a half, despite having received more than 37,000 public comments, including letters from 12 U.S. senators and 20 congressmen who felt the process has been inadequate. “We will be moving forward in a deliberate, science-driven way,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told a Senate committee in March. In the meantime, AquaBounty has dumped 62 tons of edible salmon into landfills in Panama, where a test facility has been raising its eggs to grow to full size. [more]