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The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed its initial review of an application by a Massachusetts company to sell genetically engineered salmon that grows twice as fast as traditional salmon. “Within weeks, the company expects the agency to convene an advisory committee of outside experts to weigh evidence, collect public testimony and issue a recommendation about the fish's fitness for human consumption,” the Times writes. “The process could take months or more — which still sounds like progress to the company after its 14-year, $50-million investment.”

According to the story, “Unlike ordinary salmon, AquaBounty's genetically modified fish grows during the winter as well as the summer, so it reaches an 8-pound market weight in 18 months instead of 36. That's accomplished by inserting part of a gene from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout into the growth gene of a Chinook salmon, then injecting the blended genetic material into the fertilized eggs of a North Atlantic salmon ... The salmon is identical in taste, color, protein and other attributes of a non-engineered North Atlantic salmon ... and consumes up to 25% less food over its lifetime. The AquaBounty salmon don't get bigger than other salmon; they just grow to full size faster.”

Critics - including many in the traditional fish farming industry that would compete with the genetically engineered product - say that there is no need for such a fish and call it "Frankenfish."
KC's View:
At a time when there seems to be general agreement that the oceans are over-fished, I’m a little surprised that people would say that we don’t need more. For me, the biggest issue - after assuring that GM salmon is safe - is making sure that it is labeled as being genetically engineered. This kind of transparency is a bottom line requirement.