The sale of genetically modified (GM) animals for consumption has been permitted in the United States for the first time. After 20 years of analysis and review, the FDA has approved AquaBounty Technologies’ transgenic salmon.
The new breed, known as the AquaAdvantage salmon, contains the Atlantic salmon genome with the addition of genes from two other fish species. Scientists artificially introduced a gene for a growth hormone from a Chinook, the largest species of Pacific salmon, and super-activated this gene by introducing a ‘promoter gene’ taken from an Ocean pout, a fish that can survive and grow in near freezing waters due to antifreeze proteins in its blood. With this combination, instead of switching off in colder months like in normal salmon, the AquaAdvantage salmon’s growth hormone is active all year round.
These alterations create fish that grow twice the rate and require 25% less food to reach the same weight as the Pacific salmon that provides nearly all of its genetic code.