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FDA Bans Imports After Initially Allowing Genetically Modified Salmon

The agency won't allow imports until the salmon can be properly labeled.

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The Food and Drug Administration recently declared genetically modified salmon perfectly safe to eat, but the government agency is temporarily barring the fish. The FDA won't allow imports until it can publish guidelines on how the product can be labeled, reports the Washington Post.

The FDA previously stated, "AquAdvantage salmon is as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious." But, the ban reportedly is a response to language in a spending bill passed by Congress, which forbid the sale of genetically engineered salmon until the agency finalizes rules about how it should be labeled. The Post says that process could take years.

The ban should put detractors of genetically modified organisms at ease, at least for the time being. When the FDA first ruled on the salmon, Food & Water Watch issued a statement decrying AquAdvantage's approval and noting that parent company AquaBounty has some unsavory history. "In recent years, AquaBounty facilities outside the United States have dealt with an accidental disease outbreak, an accident that lead to ‘lost' salmon, and a $9,500 fine from Panamanian regulators who found the company in breach of that country's environmental laws," the statement claims.

Republican Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, a staunch opponent of genetically modified salmon, issued a statement praising the ban.

"This is a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish,'" Murkowski said. "I adamantly oppose the FDA's misguided decision to allow GE salmon to be placed in our kitchens and on our tables, and I firmly believe that mandatory labeling guidelines must be put in place as soon as possible so consumers know what it is they are purchasing. It seems that the FDA has begun to listen, and I hope this is a sign that the agency plans to develop these necessary guidelines."