GMO Salmon: Genetically Engineered Fish Fights for Place on Your Plate

salmonThe battle over genetically modified (GMO) salmon — which has been engineered to grow more rapidly than unmodified salmon — shows no sign of nearing a resolution.

Opponents of GMO foods — which have been altered genetically to be disease resistant, grow faster or reduce pollution — contend that not enough research has been done to determine any long-term risks to consumers or the environment. Environmental and anti-GMO consumer groups have successfully pressured major supermarket chains like Kroger (KR) and Safeway (SWY) to say they won’t sell GMO salmon even if it receives regulatory clearance, the Associated Press notes.

Backers of GMO foods argue that products like GMO salmon are safe and pose no risk to consumers or the environment.

In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that GMO salmon appears to be safe for consumption and doesn’t seem to pose a threat to the environment. However, the FDA has not yet approved GMO salmon for sale and won’t say if or when it will do so. GMO salmon would be the first genetically modified animal approved for consumers to eat.

The company behind GMO salmon called AquaAdvantage has invested $77 million developing the engineered fish. The failure to win FDA approval for the GMO salmon after four years has prompted other GMO food companies to move projects overseas and has made investors wary of investing in GMO food developers.

GMO food proponents still expect GMO salmon to win FDA approval, eventually. But the FDA doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to make a final call. It would take roughly two years to bring GMO salmon to store shelves once it receives FDA clearance.

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