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Food Safety Focus (114th Issue, January 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

New Fish on the Block – GM Salmon

In November 2015, the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the world's first genetically modified fish (GM salmon) raised/bred in Canada and Panama to be farmed for human consumption. The concerned GM salmon is an Atlantic salmon that grows to market size faster than its non-GM counterpart. It has the growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and a promoter (a DNA sequence that initiates the process of gene expression) from ocean pout for promoting year-round growth.

As part of the compulsory review process, the FDA has evaluated the information submitted by the concerned company to determine the food safety of the GM salmon, such as growth hormone levels, allergenicity, and nutritional composition (e.g. fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals). Since no biologically relevant differences were found, the FDA has determined that the GM salmon is as safe and nutritious as non-GM Atlantic salmon raised in different commercial farms.

The FDA will set up post-market surveillance programmes for the GM salmon which may be introduced into the US market in a couple of years. The Centre for Food Safety will keep abreast of the issue.