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GM salmon to be raised on Indiana farm

Nearly 30 years after its creation, the long migration of AquaBounty Technologies' transgenic salmon to the seafood section of US grocery stores might be in sight. AquaBounty will use a renovated fish farm in Albany, Indiana—far from any major body of water—to grow the Atlantic salmon that incorporates a growth-hormone regulatory gene from the Pacific Chinook salmon with a promoter gene from an ocean pout, enabling it to grow twice as fast, and thus reach market size in half the time, as conventionally farmed salmon. The product, dubbed AquAdvantage salmon, is the first animal genetically engineered for food purposes. When AquaBounty initiated discussion with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, no defined regulatory pathway existed for GM animals. Since its formal application in 1995, the fish has been caught in a regulatory limbo at the FDA. Finally, the process culminated with its approved for commercial sale in November 2015, before being blocked for import until GM labeling guidelines are finalized (Nat. Biotechnol. 34, 220, 2016). Once the import alert is lifted, GM salmon eggs can be brought to the US from Canada. From then, it will take about 18 months until the first batch of fish is ready for sale. Though several national supermarket chains including Whole Foods, Safeway, Target and Trader Joe's have said they will not stock AquAdvantage, AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish is undeterred. “We're the pioneers, we've taken the hits, but we believe this is an important activity,” said Stotish. He thinks the big distributors will “recognize the quality of the product and simply time and familiarity will erode those barriers.”

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GM salmon to be raised on Indiana farm. Nat Biotechnol 36, 675 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0818-675b

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