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Import Restrictions Lifted on Genetically Engineered Salmon

The FDA announced on 8 March that it is deactivating a 2016 import alert that prevented genetically engineered salmon from entering the United States. The agency states that in 2015 it approved an application related to a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon that contains the first approved intentional genomic alteration in an animal intended for food use. However, in 2016 Congress directed the FDA not to allow any food that contains GE salmon into commerce until final labelling guidelines for informing consumers of the GE salmon content in the food were issued. The FDA complied by implementing an import alert in 2016.

However, Congress subsequently enacted the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which charges the U.S. Department of Agriculture with implementing a mandatory standard for disclosing whether a food is bioengineered and divests the FDA of its authority over voluntary labelling to indicate the presence of GE content in human foods. The FDA believes this mandate has been satisfied by the USDA’s issuance of final regulations implementing that law in late 2018.

The FDA is therefore deactivating the 2016 import alert, meaning eggs from this GE salmon can now be imported to be raised into salmon for food. Various consumer and environmental groups, including the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, have blasted this decision and are considering possible legal action.

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