AquaBounty posts $4.4m loss, but says it has the funds to begin ‘initial commercialization’ of GE salmon if approval is granted

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

The AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon contains a growth hormone gene from the faster-growing Chinook salmon; which is effectively ‘turned on’ all year round instead of only during the warmer months, which halves the time it takes to reach maturity.
The AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon contains a growth hormone gene from the faster-growing Chinook salmon; which is effectively ‘turned on’ all year round instead of only during the warmer months, which halves the time it takes to reach maturity.

Related tags: Salmon

AquaBounty Technologies - which is hoping to become the first company to introduce a genetically engineered (GE) animal to the human food supply - says it has secured the necessary funds to “begin the initial commercialization program” should the FDA give its technology the green light.

The firm, which has been stuck in regulatory limbo for years as the FDA mulls over its technology, posted net losses of $4.4m in the year to the end of December, up from $2.7m last year.

However, it has also raised $6m via a placing of shares with existing shareholders, said CEO Dr Ronald Stotish, who said he expected the company’s AquAdvantage genetically engineered (GE) salmon would gain regulatory approval later this year.

The GE salmon contains a growth hormone gene from the faster-growing Chinook salmon that is effectively ‘turned on’ all year round instead of only during the warmer months, which halves the time the fish takes to reach maturity.

AquAdvantage salmon continues to attract interest from major companies in the aquaculture trade

Ronald-Stotish
Dr Ron Stotish: 'AquAdvantage salmon continues to attract interest from major companies in the aquaculture trade'

The FDA recently extended the period for interested parties to comment on the environmental assessment of the GE salmon and the preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact by an additional 60 days, to April 26.   

We are… hopeful that the strength of law, due process and science-based regulation will prevail, and approval will be granted later this year” ​said Dr Stotish.

“AquAdvantage salmon (AAS) continues to attract interest from major companies in the aquaculture trade and this, together with the FDA panel of experts concluding that AAS is indistinguishable from other Atlantic salmon, is safe to eat and does not pose a threat to the environment under its conditions of use, reaffirms our belief that there will be a significant demand for our product.

“Additionally, as a result of the recent fundraising, we now have the necessary funds to begin the initial commercialization program once approval is granted.”

$6m cash injection ‘only sufficient to implement the initial commercialization phase’

In May 2012, AquaBounty started a new commercial scale trial of its salmon in Panama, said the firm.

“This new batch of fish are thriving and performing in line with the company’s expectations, once again clearly demonstrating the benefits of this product.

“The company continues to receive enquiries from prospective producers, within the US and elsewhere, that are enthusiastic about the commercial prospects of the fish.”

Looking ahead, the Board recognizes that the $6m cash injection is “only sufficient to implement the initial commercialization phase and will not be sufficient to enable the company to reach profitability​”, it acknowledged.

However, “once AAS is approved for commercial development, appropriate plans will be finalized​”, added the firm.

Click here​ to read our March 2013 exclusive interview with Dr Stotish.

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3 comments

I look forward to trying it

Posted by Tom Parkker,

I look forward to trying this fish. I hardly see the illness and ecological mess the previous writer claims. They're just taking a gene from one type of salmon and putting it into another type of salmon. I don't see the risk with that.

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Great to see more efficient food production methods

Posted by Mark Smith,

Initiatives like this are going to be needed if we are to feed 9 billion by 2050. If we went all organic instead, the costs to the environment of using inefficient but admittedly warm and fuzzy food production methods would be astronomical!

Although I applaud this company's efforts, will I be buying this salmon any time soon? Probably not. Let the market decide.

Most importantly, the greens can't have it both ways.

They can't demand the end of more productive food technologies like these and then not accept responsibility for the resulting extra environmental degration from the vastly more inefficient methods associated with "natural" or "organic" food production. That would be "externalizing the blame."

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How much of that money is for bonding?

Posted by Jennifer Christiano,

i wonder how much of the $6mil cash infusion that's being poured into this environmental nightmare, is going to pay for bonding to clean up the illness, ecological mess, and loss of livelihood for traditional fishermen, that AquaBounty is going to produce?
Oh, I forgot - those are 'externalized costs' that the rest of us are supposed to pay in order for the developers to walk away with their profit. Never mind.

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