AquaBounty sets its sights on Brazil, China and Israel

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AquaBounty’s CEO Sylvia Wulf has set her sights on expanding the company into global markets, seeing its genetically-engineered salmon as a way to “solve domestic insecurity” and “food insecurity,” as countries look to “feed a growing population.”

Speaking to SalmonBusiness, Wulf declared that “areas of the world that are resisting [genetically-engineered salmon] are going to have to rethink” their approach, as countries seek to adapt to the growing challenges faced domestically and internationally.

“It is a way to solve the challenges that we are facing globally. And I see markets like Brazil, I see markets like Israel, quite frankly China. They are embracing this type of technology,” Wulf said.

Potential future markets
AquaBounty is initially focusing on seafood distributors and wholesalers, as the company currently has a “limited supply of fish, which necessitates our being selective in bringing on new customers.” However, one the company’s Ohio farm, which is under construction, is commercially operational, AquaBounty hopes to expand its “customer depth and breadth.”

Beyond the United States, AquaBounty is looking to target markets that are net salmon importers and are currently unable to supply their domestic needs, seeing those as places where regulators are likely to approve and customers accept their products.

“We are pursuing regulatory approval for our GE Atlantic salmon in Brazil, Israel and China, with the goal of entering those markets with local partners in the form of joint ventures or licensing arrangements,” AquaBounty has confirmed to SalmonBusiness.

“In Brazil, we have received approval for the sale and consumption of our fish, and we are now seeking to identify a local partner. In Israel, we have selected a partner and we are preparing our regulatory application. In China, we have received approval from regulators to conduct field trials and have reviewed the commercial landscape,” the company outlined.

Challenging resistance
AquaBounty developed its genetically-engineered AquAdvantage salmon over 30 years ago, seeking to better protect the fish during its “early, most vulnerable stages of growth.” The company’s aim was to increase the amount of salmon it can harvest with a view to plugging the global seafood gap, while reducing the impact on the environment.

Despite AquaBounty’s view that their product can help countries address the challenges they are facing, the company has faced some pushback from nations resistant to genetically-engineered salmon. However, Wulf is optimistic that nations will come around to AquaBounty’s point of view.

The gene-editing “happened 30 years ago and it should be just another strain of salmon,” Wulf told SalmonBusiness, claiming that AquaBounty just “accelerated what mother nature would do if the fish was trying to survive” and has been “breeding conventionally since that point of time.”