By MATTHEW PERRONE and MARY CLARE JALONICK 12/21/12 05:08 PM ET EST
WASHINGTON — Federal health regulators say a genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast as normal is unlikely to harm the environment, clearing the way for the first approval of a scientifically engineered animal for human consumption.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released its environmental assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, a faster-growing fish which has been subject to a contentious, yearslong debate at the agency. The document concludes that the fish “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States.” Regulators also said that the fish is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon, a key concern for environmental activists.
The FDA will take comments from the public on its report for 60 days before making it final.
The FDA said more than two years ago that the fish appears to be safe to eat, but the agency had taken no public action since then. Executives for the company behind the fish, Maynard, Mass.-based Aquabounty, speculated that the government was delaying action on their application due to push-back from groups who oppose genetically modified food animals.