FDA Clears the Way for Genetically Engineered Salmon

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in November 2015 that it had approved genetically engineered (GE) salmon for human consumption—the first such approval for a GE animal. Further, the FDA stated that it had no plans to require that GE salmon be labeled as such, even though consumers don’t particularly want to eat it and definitely want to know if it’s at the supermarket: In a survey conducted by Thomas Reuters, only 35 percent of participants stated that they would eat GE fish; 93 percent stated that GE foods should be labeled.

However, in late 2015, Congress overrode the FDA’s decision to not require notification of GE content on salmon product labels. As part of the 2016 consolidated spending law, the FDA is now required to write final labeling guidelines to help inform consumers about GE salmon. The law states that the FDA must develop and implement a program with the goal of disclosing whether salmon offered for sale is GE.

While GE salmon are the first such animals to be cleared for consumption, they likely will not be the last. Already, GE cows are being studied at UC Davis, and scientists in China have engineered goats with increased muscle tissue.