A recent Nature editorial warns that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) reluctance to approve genetically-modified (GM) salmon for market could hinder future research into new gene-editing techniques. Titled “Fishy Business,” the article claims that even though a draft assessment found AquaBounty Technologies’ GM salmon “environmentally benign,” FDA conducted many of its deliberations “behind closed doors, fuelling confusion as to the cause of the setbacks, and rumors of political interference.”
“As the delays have dragged on, the technology used to make AquaBounty’s salmon has become outdated,” explains the editorial. “In the current excitement over targeted gene editing that allows researchers to modify individual genes without leaving traces of foreign DNA, AquaBounty’s salmon—which contain a gene from another species—seem like a relic.”
Meanwhile, FDA has yet to decide “how it will evaluate animals engineered with gene-editing techniques.” Raising questions about how these new products will fare under FDA’s oversight, the article urges the agency to “bring these discussions before the public, and leave political considerations at the door.” See Nature, July 31, 2014.