'Frankenfish' becomes first GM species approved for humans to eat
A fast-growing salmon has become the first genetically modified species in the world to be approved for human consumption and it will not have to be labelled as "GM food".
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday ended 20 years of tortuous negotiations by approving the GM Atlantic salmon, which grows twice as fast as ordinary salmon and can be grown in fish tanks in warehouses on land.
FDA approval in the US raises the prospect that the GM salmon could also eventually be approved in other parts of the world, including Europe, despite fierce public opposition to GM food.
The so-called "Frankenfish" has been bitterly opposed by a coalition of more than 20 anti-GM organisations but their attempts to prevent it from reaching American supermarkets and eventually the global market appear now to have failed.
The GM Atlantic salmon is engineered with extra hormone genes from the Pacific Chinook salmon and a "promoter" gene from an eel-like species called the ocean pout. These extra genes boost the salmon's growth all year round, instead of seasonally, halving the time it takes to reach maturity.
Its inventors at a Massachusetts company called AquaBounty Technologies argue that the salmon can be grown nearer to consumer markets than the Atlantic salmon reared in remote coastal fish farms.
However, the salmon's detractors have claimed that the approval sets a dangerous precedent by sanctioning the introduction of GM animals into the human food chain. (© Independent News Service)