FDA on genetically-modified salmon: safe to eat, no labels needed

The FDA has approved genetically-modified salmon, making this the first time the agency has approved a GM animal for human consumption. The modified fish is "AquAdvantage salmon," a type of Atlantic salmon that grows faster than regular non-GM salmon while consuming less food. Genetically-modified food has been the source of ample controversy, with some arguing that it is a threat to the environment, less healthy, and other alarmist claims.

The FDA detailed its decision in a statement on Thursday, saying it regulates modified animals such as this salmon under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the animals — specifically, the rDNA added to them — is designated as a drug. Under that act, the FDA says AquaBounty Technologies' GM salmon "meets the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness."

The rDNA is fine for both the fish and the humans eating the fish, says the FDA. As well, the meat from the fish is as healthy as non-modified Atlantic salmon. The AquAdvantage salmon are only approved for raising in a pair of facilities located in Panama and Canada, but not within the United States.

The facilities must have systems in place that stop fish and eggs from escaping. As a precaution, though, the GM salmon are sterile, meaning that even if one does get out and into a suitable water environment, it won't be able to breed with other salmon populations.

Said the FDA's Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine Bernadette Dunham:

The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat.