Indianapolis — The first harvest of genetically modified salmon began this week after the pandemic delayed the sale of the first such modified animal to be edible in the United States, company officials said.
Designed by biotechnology company Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc., tons of salmon will head to restaurants and remote dining services along the Midwest and East Coast.
So far, the only customers who have announced the sale of salmon are Philadelphia-based seafood distributors Samuels and Son Seafood.
AquaBounty grows fast-growing salmon at an indoor aquaculture farm in Albany, Indiana. The fish is genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as wild salmon and reach market size (8-12 lbs) in 18 months instead of 36 months.
The Massachusetts-based company initially planned to harvest fish in late 2020, Wolff said due to delays due to pandemic-accelerated Atlantic salmon demand and lower market prices. Yes.
“The influence of COVID has led us to rethink our original schedule … no one was looking for more salmon at the time,” she said. “We are very excited now. We are timing the harvest with the economic recovery and we know that demand will continue to grow.”
Despite finally appearing on the dinner plate, the GM fish has long been plagued by backlash from environmental groups.
In January, international food service company Aramark announced a promise not to sell such salmon because of environmental concerns and its potential impact on the indigenous community of harvesting wild salmon.
This announcement followed similar announcements by other major food service companies (Compass Group and Sodexo) and many of the largest US grocery retailers, seafood companies and restaurants. Costco, Kroger, Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods do not sell genetically modified or cloned salmon and claim that they need to be labeled as such.
Boycotts of AquaBounty salmon are primarily by activists of the Block Corporate Salmon campaign aimed at protecting wild salmon and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples to practice sustainable fishing.
“GMO salmon poses a major threat to the vision of a healthy food system. People need a way to connect with the food they eat, and know where that food comes from. “You can,” said John Russell, a member of the campaign and organizer of Food Justice for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. “These fish are very new and there are groups who oppose them loudly. That’s a big danger signal for consumers.”
Wolf said he was confident that he had an appetite for fish.
“Most of the salmon in this country are imported and we couldn’t bring our products to market during the pandemic,” Wolff said. “That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important for consumers to have a domestic source that is produced in a highly controlled, bio-protected environment that isn’t seasonal like wild salmon.”
AquaBounty touts salmon as disease- and antibiotic-free, with reduced carbon dioxide emissions and no risk of polluting marine ecosystems like traditional marine aquaculture. ..
Despite the rapid growth of genetically modified salmon, the company says it requires less food than most farmed Atlantic salmon. The biofiltration unit is a 70,000-gallon tank at a facility in Indiana. It keeps the water clean, makes fish less susceptible to illness, and reduces the chances of needing antibiotics.
The FDA approved AquAdvantage salmon as “safe and effective” in 2015. This was the only genetically modified animal approved for human consumption until federal regulators approved genetically modified pigs for food and medicine in December.
In 2018, the vast Indiana facility of the federal agency Aqua Bounty currently grows about 450 tonnes of salmon from eggs imported from Canada, but can grow more than twice that amount.
However, in the domestic market, where the emphasis is on origin, health and sustainability, and more and more on wild seafood over farmed seafood, some critics call salmon “Frankenfish”. Some people have different perspectives.
Some of the domestic resistance revolves around how artificial fish are displayed under FDA guidelines. Salmon fishermen, farmers, wholesalers, and other stakeholders are looking for clear labeling to ensure that their customers understand that they are buying processed products.
USDA labeling requires companies to disclose genetically modified ingredients in foods using QR codes, text packaging, or designated symbols. Compliance with this regulation will be fully enforced in January, but this rule does not apply to restaurants and food services.
Wolff said he is committed to using “genetically modified” labels when the company’s fish are sold in grocery stores within the next few months.
In November, San Francisco’s U.S. District Justice Judge Vince Chhabria confirmed that the FDA has the authority to oversee genetically engineered animals and fish. However, he determined that authorities did not fully assess the environmental impact of aqua bounty salmon fleeing to the wild.
The company claims that escape is unlikely, and fish are monitored 24 hours a day and housed in tanks equipped with nets, grids, nets, pumps and chemical disinfection to prevent escape. The company’s salmon are also female. Because he is infertile, he cannot mate.
“Our fish are actually designed to thrive in a terrestrial environment, which is part of what makes them unique,” Wolff said. “We are proud to bring more healthy and nutritious products to market in a safe, secure and sustainable way through genetic modification.”
Associated Press / USA Report
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