GMO salmon is on Canadian dinner tables after a U.S. company gained regulatory approval to sell the meat.
U.S.-based biotechnology company, AquaBounty, which produces genetically modified (GM) salmon, sold approximately five tons of GM salmon fillets to customers in Canada since Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency granted regulatory approval last year, the company said in a press release.
AquaBounty said its fish fillets "became the world’s first genetically engineered animal to be approved for human consumption," according to a November post on the company's website.
CEO Ronald Stotish said the company celebrated two milestones: "The purchase of our first commercial farm site for the production of our eco-friendly AquAdvantage salmon in the United States and the very first sales of AquAdvantage salmon.
"The sale and discussions with potential buyers clearly demonstrate that customers want our fish, and we look forward to increasing our production capacity to meet demand."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to approve GM salmon has garnered a mixed reaction from the public.
Montreal doctor, Christopher Labos, noted that "some think this will lead to the salvation of humanity, and others to its downfall," according to a post on the AquaBounty website.
One of the organizations opposing the sale of GM fish is GMO Inside, a campaign dedicated to spreading awareness on the possible implications genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could have on the environment, food systems, economy and public’s health.
In a statement, GMO Inside noted that the "salmon has been genetically altered to produce extra growth hormones, allowing it to grow faster and bigger than natural salmon."
The organization explained that no independent studies had been funded on the fish’s safety, adding that the FDA formed its opinions upon data provided by AquaBounty, stating that genetically engineered foods were equivalent to natural foods.
"The FDA ignored the concerns raised by thousands of Americans and dozens of legislators and scientists, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," noted GMO Inside.
Responding to concerns, Labos said people were scared of GMOs because they did not understand the technology.
"They see it as something new and scary," he said. "That’s ironic, because we’ve been genetically modifying our food for thousands of years."
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