Reporting from Washington — The effort to win federal approval of genetically engineered salmon received a major boost Friday when the Food and Drug Administration released an analysis that deemed the fish safe to eat and unlikely to harm the environment.
AquaBounty Technologies Inc. of Waltham, Mass., has invested more than 14 years and nearly $60 million developing and seeking approval of its AquAdvantage salmon. The company says its fish look and taste like non-engineered North Atlantic salmon, consume up to 25% less food, and reach market weight in half the time.
If approved, the fish would be the nation's first genetically modified animals produced commercially for food.
"This is the culmination of a very long, very deliberate process," said AquaBounty Chief Executive Ronald Stotish. "We're pleased that the process is moving forward."
The FDA's Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee will hold public meetings Sept. 19-20 to review the analysis.
One point of controversy has been the potential for cross-breeding with wild salmon, an issue that has been of great concern to some environmental and food safety advocates, but the scenario was deemed "unlikely" in the FDA analysis.