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March 10th, 2014

On the Brink of Irrelevancy: Is the Honeymoon Over for FDA and AquaBounty?

By Tim Schwab

AquaBounty GE Salmon and the FDAIn 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put forward a shockingly favorable regulatory review on AquaBounty Technologies’ genetically engineered salmon, offering preliminary determinations that the fish are healthy, of little threat to the environment and safe to eat.  

The scientific community skewered the agency’s far-reaching, short-sighted determinations, while hundreds of thousands of consumers stated clearly they wouldn’t eat the slow-growing, sickly, escape-prone fish.

Here we are in 2014 and, as the world turns, it increasingly turns against AquaBounty’s GMO salmon. Many of the nation’s largest conventional grocers—including Kroger, Safety, Target, HEB, Aldi, Giant Eagle, Meijer, Marsh, and dozens of others—have said they aren’t planning on selling AquaBounty’s GMO salmon even if the FDA does approve it.   

This means that even if FDA were to approve GMO salmon today, by the time the first fillets hit the stores (AquaBounty says 2016), there very well may not be a single retail outlet willing to stock GMO salmon. And polls show again and again and again that consumers will avoid GMO fish if they can, though that depends on whether FDA requires labeling. 

This leaves consumers to think hard about the grossly mistaken path that the FDA has walked; the agency’s incremental efforts to approve GMO salmon over the last four years have moved FDA and AquaBounty to the very brink of irrelevancy. Though there is clearly no market and no appetite for this fish, which would be the first biotech food animal to enter the food supply, the FDA continues to spend precious resources trying to approve it.

AquaBounty, meanwhile, has watched its stock plummet as much as 35 percent in the last three months. Last week, the company organized another bailout from its largest investor. Meanwhile, the company’s operations are threatened by two legal challenges, one in Panama and one in Canada

And AquaBounty now says it is considering growing GMO fish as a vertically integrated company instead of simply selling salmon eggs to independent growers, who would bring the fish to market. This big change in direction may reflect resistance in the salmon industry, where growers have long doubted the benefits of this fish and stated they won’t grow it.

As the retail market bottoms out, salmon growers distance themselves from AquaBounty and consumers continue to say no to GMO salmon, it’s extremely difficult to see on whose behalf the FDA is fighting except the tiny group of stakeholders from AquaBounty and the biotech industry.

Isn’t it about time that FDA read the writing on the wall and end the million-dollar regulatory review of AquaBounty’s failed experiment? Isn’t it time we put taxpayer resources and the public interest back at the top of the priority list for the FDA? 

Read more about GMO salmon here.



6 Comments on On the Brink of Irrelevancy: Is the Honeymoon Over for FDA and AquaBounty?

  1. Linda Filman says:

    I firmly believe that the FDA has no interest in watching out for the lowly consumer when confronted with GMO products ! No matter if grown on our soil or in the water and continually try to pass this stuff on to the poor consumer! If it were’nt for lobbyists,we would not have these predicaments to deal with! Lobbys need to keep their greedy little companies out of our food chain!

  2. Zelina Forester says:

    I think the FDA NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED!!! They certainly aren’t doing their Jobs!!!

    • Kristen says:

      Investigated by whom?! That’s just the problem … the authorities have no interest in our best interest.

  3. Albert Diraddo says:

    What food grocery chains sell this product in the new york state area?’

  4. Derek Wolf says:


    There’s several frightening and very unfavorable outcomes from the potential proliferating of GM Salmon. Some of the biggest issues include:

    Because of the GM induced changes to their reproductive systems and speed of weight-gain, it was estimated that if/when they escape and spread into the wild, in 40-salmon-generation’s time they will have ELIMINATED that population, including themselves!

    The amount of corn/soy feed used to sustain the GM fish farms are not enhancing to the food supply. Specifically, it takes significantly MORE feed than the fish would yield back in meat. Over the long term, this increases the need for corn and soy (also GM) to feed the GM fish. Because the fish do not yield back equivalent amounts of meat, they will actually be reducing the overall food supply rather than enhance it. Of course we did not have this problem with wild salmon, who eat what nature intended. That of course leads to entirely other sets of problems around GM salmon.

    Another outcome is that in trials, GM fish were found to be rather carnivorous when hungry. That is, if you don’t feed them the amount of corn/soy they are used it, they begin to violently attack each other. If/when they escape into the wild this adds to the likelihood of extreme damage to local wild salmon populations.

    All this is separate from the increasing number of science-based health and environmental risks posed by GM farming practices and consumption of that food. There’s a lot of reasons to boycott GM salmon and other GM foods. There’s been more and more people catching on and it is a wonderful thing for the human and environmental health of the future.

  5. Discover More Here

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