A SALMON which grows twice as fast as ordinary fish could become the first genetically-modified animal in the world to be declared officially safe to eat, after America's powerful food-safety watchdog ruled it poses no major health or environmental risks.
The US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) said it cannot find any valid scientific reasons to ban the production of GM Atlantic salmon engineered with extra genes from two other fish species – a decision that could soon lead to its commercial production.
It clears one of the final hurdles for GM salmon to be lawfully sold and eaten in the US and will put pressure on salmon producers in Britain and the rest of Europe to follow suit.
Successive chief scientists to the UK Government, as well as science institutions such as the Royal Society, have endorsed the concept of GM technology as a tool for increasing food production in the 21st century, but consumer opposition has so far blocked the approval of GM food for the dinner table.
Critics of the GM salmon – which some have dubbed the "Frankenfish" – argue that the introduction of the fast-growing salmon creates risks for both human health and the environment.
They say it could escape into the wild, interbreed with wild fish and undermine the genetics of the endangered Atlantic salmon.
But the company responsible, AquaBounty Technologies, emphasised that the fish will be only be grown as sterile females and kept in secure containers on land.
Supporters believe the GM salmon will make it not only easier and cheaper to produce farmed salmon, but that it could also be better for the environment because they can be grown on land-based fish farms. (© Independent News Service)