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FDA Takes Several Actions on Biotech Foods; Approves GE Salmon for Human Consumption

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

(North American Meat Institute)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week took several actions regarding genetically engineered plants and animals for food. In an historic decision, FDA approved genetically engineered (GE) salmon for commercial sale, making it the first biotech animal destined for human consumption. FDA approved AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. FDA arrived at this decision after a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, which found AquAdvantage Salmon meets the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The AquAdvantage Salmon may be raised only in land-based, contained hatchery tanks in two specific facilities in Canada and Panama.

FDA also issued two guidance documents for manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label their products as containing ingredients from GE and non-GE sources. The first is a draft guidance document discussing the labeling of foods derived from Atlantic salmon. FDA is accepting public comment on this guidance for 60 days. The second document provides final guidance on foods derived from GE plants and includes advice regarding the labeling of non-genetically modified organism (GMO) foods.

In a separate decision, FDA refused to consider requiring the labeling of GMO foods, denying petitions filed by advocacy groups that fought to stop or restrict the commercialization of agriculture biotechnology. In denying the petitions, FDA affirmed its longstanding policy that there is no legal basis for mandating such disclosure on biotech products that are essentially the same as their conventional versions.

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