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First genetically modified salmon is from Panama
By: Panama Offshore Legal Services
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News, both positive and negative, has spread the world round about the world’s first genetically modified salmon. These landmark eggs have been created in land-based facilities in Chiriquí, the westernmost province of Panama. The fish are already approved to become the world’s first commercially-sold genetically modified fish. The new fish grows twice as fast as a wild salmon.
Genetically modified salmon has already been partially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) which deems it to be as safe as eating Atlantic bred salmon. The FDA has collected public comments regarding the environmental impact for final approval. It is expected that the FDA will approve the importation of the salmon from Panama later this year for U.S. consumption. Then the Panama research facility plans to begin to grow them in the U.S., according to Henry Clifford, vice-president of marketing and sales at AquaBounty Technologies, the U.S. biotech company which developed the salmon in Panama.
“Ever since the project began in 2009, professionals from the local Panamanianauthorities have been intimately involved.”
– Henry Clifford
Called AquAdvantage salmon, the project began in Panama because of the country’s long-standing policy support for aquaculture and genetically modified organisms.
Clifford also stated that his company was able to use local researchers because Panama has a “large pool of experienced biologists and production managers with many years of successful experience managing aquaculture operations”.
The company has brought new technologies and knowledge to Panama. “Ever since the project began in 2009, professionals from the local Panamanian authorities have been intimately involved in the oversight of our project,” says Clifford, “So there is a process in which AquaBounty is transferring technology and know-how to local Panamanian scientists, researchers and other professionals.”
After FDA approval the research facility will be adding a production area for growing this kind of salmon for commercial sales. It is unclear whether supermarkets nationally will be required to label the food as genetically modified.
Giovanni Lauri, director of the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), notes that the FDA’s approval could boost Panama investments from companies seeking to use transgenic animals for food. “Panama is open to this kind of research as long as companies meet the requirements stated by our laws regarding environmental impact and food safety”, he adds.
Proponents of the new fish state that their product is an answer to hunger, and overfishing.