Genetically modified salmon can now be imported into the US

The Food and Drug Administration has ended its 2016 import alert on genetically modified salmon, pointing to its past analysis of evidence related to the fish, as well as its approval of genetically modified salmon from AquAdvantage. The import alert had resulted from Congress, which ordered the FDA to block genetically engineered salmon from entering the US until final labeling guidelines had been issued.

Genetically engineered organisms are produced using biotechnology; the end goal is often introducing favorable traits, new traits, or other characteristics that improve a product, such as sweeter fruit, certain crops that are more resistant to a particular pest, or, in the case of salmon, fish that grow much faster.

In 2015, the FDA declared genetically engineered salmon as safe for human consumption, specifically a GE Atlantic salmon from AquAdvantage. In 2017, AquaBounty, which produces the AquAdvantage salmon, announced that it had started selling the fish in Canadian grocery stores. Around the same time, the company had announced that it bought its first commercial farm in the US, which would be used to raise the fish.

Extensive studies have taken place in both the US and Canada, where officials have examined the evidence surrounding these genetically engineered salmon and found them safe for consumption. The FDA found meat harvested from the fish to be just as healthy as meat from non-modified salmon.

There are some limitations in place to prevent unwanted breeding between normal and GE salmon, however, namely that GE salmon are sterile to prevent mixing should a specimen escape to a body of water. Without the 2106 import alert, AquAdvantage salmon eggs can now be imported into the US and raised as food.