Production of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon that grow twice as fast as their naturally born counterparts was approved for consumption by US federal health regulators. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released its environmental assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, stating that the fish “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States”.

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The fish was said to be safe to eat two years ago, but since the positive assessment no public action has been taken. Executives for the company behind the fish, Maynard, Mass.-based Aquabounty, claim that the government’s inactivity can be contributed to the push-back from groups who oppose genetically modified fish.

“We are encouraged that the environmental assessment is being released and hope the government continues the science-based regulatory process,” AquaBounty said in a statement.

Those who oppose genetically modified fish call the modified salmon “frankenfish.” Critics worry that the fish will cause human allergies and the eventual decimation of natural salmon populations in case of accidental mixing with those that are engineered. Some believe that the genetic modification is an ethical issue.

AquaBounty claims that the fish is safe. It would be bred female and sterile with a small percentage that might be able to breed. The FDA confirmed their claims back in 2010.

The engineers at AquaAdvantage added a growth hormone from the Pacific Chinook salmon, keeping it active by using another gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout. The gene acts as an “on” switch for the hormone which is, in the case of typical Atlantic salmon, active for only part of the year.

Much of the Congressional criticism comes from members of the Alaska delegation, who see the modified salmon as a threat to the wild salmon industry. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said:”This is especially troubling as the agency is ignoring the opposition by salmon and fishing groups, as well as more than 300 environmental, consumer and health organizations”.

+ AquaBounty

Via Huffington Post

Second Photo by Flickr user merelymel