A biotechnology company has created a new type of salmon, and at it'll probably end up on your dinner plate in the near future. While you won't find this fish in the wild, it grows significantly faster than your typical Atlantic salmon, and now, it's apparently safe for you to eat, according to federal health officials. Oh, and it's genetically engineered.
After what it described as "exhaustive and rigorous" testing, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that the "AquAdvantage salmon," a genetically modified fish produced by the Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, is just as safe for you to eat as natural, non-genetically modified Atlantic salmon -- and just as nutritious. The announcement, however, did not mention how the fish tastes, but we're assuming it wasn't engineered to taste like chicken. Yet.
Additionally, the move marks the first time a genetically modified animal has been cleared for human consumption.
But not everyone is breaking out lemon juice and butter dipping sauce. Many critics oppose the creation of genetically engineered foods, or "frankenfoods," due to concerns that they're unsafe to eat and could potentially harm the environment, but the FDA notes the production and harvest of the engineered salmon will not lead to a "significant impact on the environment of the United States." The company will operate facilities on land in Panama and Canada and maintains that it's unlikely these fish will escape and get out into the wild. But for the record, "frankensushi" looks freaking delicious.
In case you're wondering, the salmon is able to grow faster because engineers insert a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and a gene from an eel-like creature known as the ocean pout, according to a report by USA Today. Notably, current law does not require companies to label genetically modified salmon, so if you want natural, non-genetically modified, you'll have to specifically seek out salmon that are wild-caught, per the newspaper.
But if engineered salmon seems, well, fishy to you, don't worry. Several grocery chains including Kroger, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods have already announced that they do not plan to sell the stuff, according to a report by Reuters. But the approval of the salmon begs the question: what other genetically modified animals will be cleared for eating?
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and is really curious about how this new salmon tastes. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.