GM salmon farmer has burnt through $135 million since its inception

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Aquabounty posted a USD 3.1 million net loss in Q1.

The road to creating an industry of land-based raised genetically-modified salmon is a pricy one. And which like many seafood industries, has had a spanner thrown in the works thanks to COVID-19. In a statement on U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Aquabounty posted its Q1 ended March 31.

The company is currently producing genetically engineered-fast growing salmon (AquaAdvantage). When its Rollo Bay, PEI and Albany, Indiana sites are in full production, it will have a harvest volume of about 1500 tonnes per year. This year, it is set to harvest around 160 tonnes of salmon from its Indiana facilities this year.

Aquabounty posted a net loss of USD 3.1 million, a sum higher than the year before at USD 2.6 million.

It added that it “has experienced net losses and negative cash flows from operations since its inception and has cumulative losses attributable to common stockholders of USD 135 million”.

In an earlier form, the company started in the early 1990s when it was called A/F Protein (for antifreeze protein). But it has taken two decades for AquaBounty to get FDA approval. In 2015, it got the greenlight to produce the first bioengineered animal available for sale for human consumption, genetically engineered-fast growing salmon (AquaAdvantage).

Looking ahead, the biotech company estimates that sales “will be modest and infrequent until our Indiana and Rollo Bay farm sites commence harvesting our fish in June and December of 2020, respectively. In the future, we believe that our revenue will depend upon the number of countries in which we have received regulatory approval for the sale of our products, the number and capacity of grow-out farms we have in operation, and the market acceptance we achieve”. In February, SalmonBusiness reported that it had a plan to raise 55,000 tonnes of genetically-raised salmon a year by 2028.

In terms of COVID-19, the GM salmon farmer is expecting an impact: “Any resulting financial impact cannot be reasonably estimated at this time but may have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations”.

In the report, Aquabounty wrote that: “trading prices for its common stock and the stock of other biotechnology companies have been highly volatile as a result of the COVID-19 virus pandemic”.

And that volality could have serious implications for future plans: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has introduced uncertainty and volatility into the financial markets and as a result sources of future funding may be more difficult to obtain, if at all.

“If we are unable to generate additional funds in the future through financings, sales of our products, government grants, loans, or from other sources or transactions, we will exhaust our resources and will be unable to maintain our currently planned operations. If we cannot continue as a going concern, our stockholders would likely lose most or all of their investment in us”.