Production of GM salmon set to begin

PANAMA
Tuesday, October 05, 2010, 00:20 (GMT + 9)

AquaBounty Technologies Inc, which is a registered company in the United States, has confirmed that it will begin to breed genetically modified (GM) salmon in Panama.

The main objective for the company is to export the product to the U.S. market for human consumption (HC), said Henry Clifford, vice president of the firm and the project director in Panama.

However, the U.S. authorities have yet to approve GM salmon for direct HC, whilst growing global controversy and different sectors are pushing for the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the country to suspend the approval process until further studies have been released.

Clifford told the newspaper La Prensa, that the initiative was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and by the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), but these agencies have not issued an official statement.

The businessman claims that these salmon can reach a “sellable size” after 16 to 18 months, compared to the 30 months required by normal salmon.

However, it has been viewed as a very controversial endeavor. Numerous scientists have criticized the genetic modification of salmon as they believe that the fish could interbreed with wild genes and release a growth hormone with unpredictable results.

In addition, they warn that their use may exacerbate allergies in humans.

Meanwhile, U.S. representatives and senators last week urged the FDA to halt the approval process for AquAdvantage salmon, the genetically modified salmon by AquaBounty.

The congressmen asked the FDA to postpone the process until they have analyzed the issue in depth, fix some serious flaws and incorporate more scientific and public input.

For its part, the company and the FDA does not consider the modified salmon to pose any threat to the environment.

Related articles:

Congress urges FDA to halt GE salmon approval process
GM salmon faces widespread opposition

By Analia Murias
editorial@fis.com
www.fis.com

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