To date few genetic engineering applications involving vertebrates or other types of animals have been used in food production. The steady increase in salmon consumption, however, which is being met increasingly through fish farming, has led to genetic engineering being used on salmon. A number of countries are currently working on genetically modifying salmon with the aim of boosting growth and resistance and helping the animals adjust to lower water temperatures.

One US company filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as long ago as 1999 to launch a fast-growing genetically modified salmon species on the market under the brand name "AquAdvantage". The FDA accepted the application on November 19th, 2015 after having classified the consumption of “AquaAdvantage” as free of any health hazard. With this decision, the use of a genetically modified animal species as foodstuff is permitted in the USA for the first time. The breeding of this salmon species takes place in Canada and Panama where it is subject to regulations which are especially related to keeping the salmon in controlled aquacultures.

The approval of “AquAdvantage” was accompanied by protests which were concerned with the absence of labelling requirements for food containing the genetically modified salmon species. Subsequently, on January 29th, 2016 the FDA issued Import Alert 99-40, banning importing and selling this salmon species which is effective immediately until the issuing of the respective labeling regulations. In July 2018, Congress enacted the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law and charged the U.S. Department of Agriculture with implementing it. On December 20th, 2018 these regulations were published ("National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard"). The FDA, although having been divested of its authority to issue labeling guidance, considered the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an adequate implementation of the law and, subsequently, deactivated Import Alert 99-40 on March 8th 2019.

Information on salmon species AquAdvantage and its approval for the food production put together by the FDA: Online Version

Press release of the FDA’s deactivation of Import Alert 99-40: Online Version

Regulations issued by the U.S Department of Agriculture ("National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard"): Online Version

However, since 2004 aquarium owners in the USA have already been able to purchase genetically modified fluorescent zebra fish ("GloFish"). A similarly modified zebra fish has been available on the Taiwanese market since 2003 under the name "night pearl".

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