AquAdvantage salmon is the trade name for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies. The AquAdvantage salmon has been modified by the addition of a growth hormone regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter from an ocean pout to the Atlantic's 40,000 genes. These genes enable it to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer. The purpose of the modifications is to increase the speed at which the fish grows, without affecting its ultimate size or other qualities, though competing commercial conventional salmon growers have publicly challenged the purported fast growth rates of AquaBounty's salmon. The fish grows to market size in 16 to 18 months rather than three years. The latter figure refers to varieties whose growth rate has already been improved by 2:1 as a result of traditional selective breeding.
Commercial aquaculture is the most rapidly growing segment of the agricultural industry, accounting for more than $60B sales in 2003. While land-based agriculture is increasing between 2% to 3% per year, aquaculture has been growing at an average rate of approximately 9% per year since 1970. The UN expects the consumption of farmed fish to outpace global beef consumption by nearly 10% within five years, according to the UN. As of 2007, Salmon aquaculture produced approximately 69% of world salmon output, and over 80% of Atlantic salmon.
Genetic modification occurs when incorporated gene construct opAFP-GHc2 is transferred into the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and gene construct OnMTGH1 is transferred into the Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) These transferred genes allow the genetically modified fish to achieve accelerated growth rates, which confer longer survival and reproductive success.
AquaAdvantage has created a 100-ton/year aquaculture facility in landlocked highlands in Panama, compared to the current 230,000 ton output of farmed Atlantic salmon. Whole Foods has announced that it will not sell AquaAdvantage salmon.
Aquaculture that uses naturally occurring salmon, mostly Atlantic salmon, cultivates the fish in net pens. In North America, this occurs mostly in coastal waters along Washington State, British Columbia and Maine. However, the application for FDA approval of AquAdvantage salmon requires land-based tank cultivation and there are no sea-based pens under discussion. 
Genetically modified salmon have raised concerns over the environmental impact they could have if they were to be released into the wild. Currently, no genetically modified salmon have been introduced into the wild. Modeled invasion scenarios in semi-natural environments suggest that genetically modified salmon would have the ability to outcompete wild-type salmon. However, the researcher who developed the "Trojan gene" hypothesis frequently cited by critics of this salmon has discounted this scenario and describes this as an "urban myth". 
Survival in new habitats 
Genetically modified fish can learn to feed on new prey, regain a feeding pattern, and switch to different types of food after leaving hatchery environments. These adaptations could pose a risk if genetically modified salmon were to be released into the wild.
Genetically modified salmon can potentially survive twice as long as wild-type salmon. The ability of genetically modified salmon to grow faster does not mean they are preferentially preyed upon, and this leads to increased survival. In a competition scenario, such as a release of genetically modified fish from a salmon farm into the wild, the genetically modified salmon could initially outcompete wild-type salmon for food. This success would allow the genetically modified salmon's greater survival.
Rate of growth 
Genetically modified fish have the potential to feed more efficiently than wild-type salmon. This leads to an accelerated growth rate during their first year after birth. These fish have the capability to grow eleven times faster than wild-type salmon. This characteristic allows genetically modified salmon to achieve maturation more rapidly and gives them the ability to reproduce in a time span of less than two years. With this accelerated maturity, there is a risk that genetically modified salmon can reproduce at a much faster rate than wild-type salmon.
Smoltification is the process of salmon adapting from freshwater to marine water. Concerns have been raised around the genetically modified salmon’s ability to potentially achieve smoltification in only one year. This could allow genetically modified fish to reach freshwater quicker. The ability to reach freshwater first could allow genetically modified salmon to be in the presence of more food with less competition from the wild-type salmon.
Potential benefits 
Under simulated models, both prococial parr and anadromous genetically modified male salmon lack reproductive success and have a reduced number of offspring survivals. Additionally, they lack in swimming capabilities as compared to wild-type salmon. The genetically modified salmon expel more energy when swimming than wild-type salmon. This is most likely due to the type of muscle fibers. The genetically modified fish’s muscle fibers are smaller in diameter than wild-type salmon. The force a specific muscle can generate is proportional to the diameter of the muscle, and with a smaller muscle diameter than wild-type salmon, they produce less force than their wild type counterparts.
Genetically modified salmon’s lack of fertilization success can be attributed to nest fidelity, quivering frequency, and spawn participation. Under simulated competition environments, 94% of siring occurred by wild-type salmon, while only 5.4% was attributed to genetically modified salmon. This advantage for wild-type salmon allows the possibility for more than twice as many wild-type offspring to be produced. Other characteristics that could cause wild-type males to be chosen more frequently could be the lack of growth of the kype, the hooked jaw of a male, and red coloration on anadromous males, which shows sexual maturity to females.
Using in vitro analysis, genetically modified salmon's ejaculate was much less concentrated, had a lower sperm count, and decreased sperm velocity, which can decrease the genetically modified salmon’s fertilization success.
Genetic fitness 
Potential solutions 
The fish's developer proposes to address these concerns by cultivating only sterile females at inland farms. They claim escapees could not reproduce, either natively or by interbreeding with wild stocks, because they are all triploid, with three sets of chromosomes. They plan to provide farmers with eggs rather than fish. As an extra precautionary measure, it has been suggested that the genetically modified fish only be raised in land-based facilities (as opposed to aquatic, since there has been a history of escapes in such pens).
FDA review 
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has an ongoing review of an application by AquaBounty Technologies to allow the AquAdvantage salmon as the first genetically modified animal into the United States food supply. The developer submitted its first data set to the FDA in 1996 and has raised 10 generations of the fish.
In September 2010, an FDA advisory panel indicated that the fish is "highly unlikely to cause any significant effects on the environment" and that it is "as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon" Kathleen Jones of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine said:
|“||In conclusion, all of the data and information we reviewed ... really drive us to the conclusion that AquAdvantage salmon is Atlantic salmon, and food from AquAdvantage salmon is as safe as food from other Atlantic salmon.||”|
However the FDA advisory panel also concluded that more research was necessary.
In October 2010, 39 lawmakers wrote to the FDA requesting that it reject the application. Other groups have requested that the fish carry a label identifying its transgenic origin. Concerns included alleged flaws in sterilization, isolation and excessive antibiotic use. In 2012, the major shareholder of AquaBounty Technologies said that he doubted that approval would be granted for the AquAdvantage salmon in a US election year.
On 25 December 2012, the FDA published a draft Environmental assessment for Aquadvantage salmon. The FDA also published a preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact. There was to be a 60 day period for the public to comment before the FDA reviewed Aquadvantage salmon again.
As of May 2013, the public comment period officially ended. The FDA is now scheduled to finalize its assessment.
See also 
- Salmobreed 2011.
- Blumenthal 2010
- Doward 2010
- Higgs et al. 2009, pp. 127-137
- Raven et al. 2008, pp. 26-37
- Fitzpatrick et al. 2011, pp. 185-191
- Ledford 2013.
- Interview with Ron Stotish at BIO
- Sundström & Devlin 2011, pp. 447-460
- Moreau, Conway & Fleming 2011, pp. 736–748
- Wei & ZuoYan 2010, pp. 401-408
- Ahrens 2011, pp. 583-597
- Foes of GE salmon raise specter of 'Trojan gene' effect
- Sundström et al. 2009, pp. 762-769
- Lee, Devlin & Farrell 2003, pp. 753-766
- Ron 2010
- % (2013-02-11). "Is Genetically Modified Salmon Safe? : Discovery News : Discovery News". News.discovery.com. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Naik 2010
- FDA 2010.
- Mundy & Tomson 2010
- Carollo 2010
- Hedlund 2012
- Pollack 2012
- FDA December 2012.
- FDA May 2012.
- Federal Register 2012.
- Reardon 2012
- Ahrens, R. N. (2011). "Standing Genetic Variation and Compensatory Evolution in Transgenic Organisms: A Growth-enhanced Salmon Simulation". Transgenic Research: 583–597.
- Blumenthal, Les (August 2, 2010). "Company says FDA is nearing decision on genetically engineered Atlantic salmon". Washington Post. Retrieved August 2010.
- Carollo, Kim (20 September 2010). "Surprise: FDA Panel Unable to Reach Conclusion on Genetically Modified Salmon Public Hearing Concludes, No Vote or Recommendation by FDA". ABC News. Retrieved October 2010.
- Doward, Jamie (September 26, 2010). "GM food battle moves to fish as super-salmon nears US approval". The Guardian. Retrieved October, 2010.
- Fitzpatrick, John L.; Akbarashandiz, Hamid; Sakhrani, Dionne; Biagi, Carlo A.; Pitcher, Trevor E.; Devlin, Robert H. (2011). "Cultured Growth Hormone Transgenic Salmon Are Reproductively Out-competed by Wild-reared Salmon in Semi-natural Mating Arenas". Aquaculture 312: 185–191.
- Hedlund, Steven (25 May 2012). "Measure requiring GM salmon study rejected". Seafood Source. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- Higgs, D.; Sutton, J.; Kim, H.; Oakes, J.; Smith, J.; Biagi, C.; Rowshandeli, M.; Devlin, R. (2009). "Influence of Dietary Concentrations of Protein, Lipid and Carbohydrate on Growth, Protein and Energy Utilization, Body Composition, and Plasma Titres of Growth Hormone and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 in Non-transgenic and Growth Hormone Transgenic Coho Salmon, Oncorhynchus Kisutch (Walbaum)". Aquaculture 286: 127–137.
- Ledford, Heidi (2013-05-01). "Transgenic salmon nears approval : Nature News & Comment". Nature.com. doi:10.1038/497017a. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Lee, C. G.; Devlin, R. H.; Farrell, A. P. (2003). "Swimming Performance, Oxygen Consumption and Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption in Adult Transgenic and Ocean-ranched Coho Salmon". Journal of Fish Biology 62: 753–766.
- Moreau, Darek T. R.; Conway, Corinne; Fleming, Ian A. (1 November 2011). "Reproductive performance of alternative male phenotypes of growth hormone transgenic Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)". Evolutionary Applications 4 (6): 736–748. doi:10.1111/j.1752-4571.2011.00196.x.
- Mundy, Alicia; Tomson, Bill (1 October 2010). "Industry Fights Altered Salmon". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September, 2010.
- Naik, Gautam (September 21, 2010). "Gene-Altered Fish Closer to Approval". Wall Street Journal.
- Pollack, Andrew (21 May 2012). "An Entrepreneur Bankrolls a Genetically Engineered Salmon". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- Raven, P. A.; Uh, M.; Sakhrani, D.; Beckman, B. R.; Cooper, K.; Pinter, J.; Leder, E. H.; Silverstein, J. et al. (2008). "Endocrine Effects of Growth Hormone Overexpression in Transgenic Coho Salmon". General and Comparative Endocrinology 159: 26–37.
- Reardon, Sarah (28 December 2012). "Approval for gene-modified salmon spawns controversy". New Scientist. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- Ron, Benny (November 23, 2010). "Genetically Engineered Salmon Eggs Designed to Grow on Land". Retrieved November, 2010.
- Sundström, Fredrik L.; Devlin, Robert H. (2011). "Increased Intrinsic Growth Rate Is Advantageous Even under Ecologically Stressful Conditions in Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus Kisutch)". Evolutionary Ecology 25: 447–460.
- Sundström, Fredrik L.; Tymchuk, W. E.; Lõhmus, M.; Devlin, R. H. (2009). "Sustained Predation Effects of Hatchery-reared Transgenic Coho Salmon Ohcorhynchus Kisutch in Semi-natural Environments". Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 762–769.
- Wei, H. U.; ZuoYan (2010). "Integration Mechanisms of Transgenes and Population Fitness of GH Transgenic Fish". Science China Life Sciences 4: 401–408.
- "Briefing Packet: AquAdvantage Salmon". Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine. 20 September 2010.
- "Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact Concerning a Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon" 77 (247). Federal Register. 26 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Environmental Assessment for AquAdvantage Salmon". United States Food and Drug Administration. 25 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact AquAdvantage Salmon". United States Food and Drug Administration Department of Health and Human Services. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Salmobreed challenges GMO Salmon" (Press release). Salmobreed. November 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-18.