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March 26, 2019

AquaBounty to begin U.S. farming of genetically-engineered salmon

Photo | Courtesy AquaBounty salmon eggs

A Maynard company that genetically engineers fish and raises them in controlled settings is looking to soon begin farming salmon in the U.S. after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted an import alert.

The FDA on March 8 deactivated a 2016 import alert preventing AquaBounty’s bioengineered salmon from entering the country. The company has previously sold its fish in Canada. 

In a statement, CEO Sylvia Wulf said the company will immediately begin importing eggs from its Canada hatchery to its Indiana production facility.

“As FDA notes in this announcement, our salmon was approved by the agency over three years ago based upon a very comprehensive science-based review process, which established that our salmon was safe, nutritious, and environmentally sound and met all other regulatory requirements,” Wulf said.

When the FDA approved the company’s salmon in 2016, Congress blocked the fish from the U.S. market until final labeling guidelines for the product could be completed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late 2018 issued those final regulations.

AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage Salmon eggs can now be imported to the company’s facility in Indiana. 

“As was determined during the FDA’s 2015 review, this fish is safe to eat, the genetic construct added to the fish’s genome is safe for the animal, and the manufacturer’s claim that it reaches a growth marker important to the aquaculture industry more rapidly than its non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon counterpart is confirmed,” the FDA said. 

The company closed on a public offering last week, raising $7.5 million to begin growing its first batch of fish in the U.S. 

The company now looks to take some of the financial burden off of investors and eat into its net loss, which was more than $10.3 million in 2018. Revenues were just $85,000 last year.

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