AquAdvantage: biotech, market fears to square off

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After 28 years of work and research, transgenic salmon is facing its No. 1 challenge  — convincing consumers that it is good, and, above all, safe.

Whether or not it succeeds depends largely on the future of food biotechnology, writes the innovation blog, Xataka.com.

AquAdvantage salmon, the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption, has already entered the Canadian market. In August 2017, the first four-and-a-half tons of salmon left AquaBounty’s facility in Massachusetts seeking a niche in the market for one of the world’s most consumed fish.

Thanks to the growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon, and a promoter sequence of DNA from the ocean pout antifreeze protein gene, the AquAdvantage salmon grows faster, reaching mature size in half the time as other Atlantic salmon, consuming less feed in the process. That’s good for a U.S. market that imports nearly all its supplies.

But entering the USA won’t be easy. Transgenic salmon faces growing oppostion from the ecologically and transgenic aware, and chains Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Safeway have already announced that they would not sell the salmon.

Five tonnes of transgenic fish are a very small quantity compared to the 2.2 million tonnes of farmed Atlantic salmon consumed worldwide each year. Food and biotechnology sectors worldwide are watching AquaBounty closely. This science has opened the door to something really new, and through it a number of other altered animals may be incorporated into the world’s food choices.