The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued the first approval for a genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon, which is an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-genetically modified farm-raised salmon.
In order for a GE food to be sold in Canada, it must be approved for sale by Health Canada as a “novel food”, defined by the Food and Drug Regulations as:
(a) a substance, including a microorganism, that does not have a history of safe use as a food;
(b) a food that has been manufactured, prepared, preserved or packaged by a process that
(i) has not been previously applied to that food, and
(ii) causes the food to undergo a major change; and
(c) a food that is derived from a plant, animal or microorganism that has been genetically modified such that
(i) the plant, animal or microorganism exhibits characteristics that were not previously observed in that plant, animal or microorganism,
(ii) the plant, animal or microorganism no longer exhibits characteristics that were previously observed in that plant, animal or microorganism, or
(iii) one or more characteristics of the plant, animal or microorganism no longer fall within the anticipated range for that plant, animal or microorganism.
For a novel food to be approved for sale, a manufacturer must provide data to Health Canada to establish that the food is safe for consumption. Health Canada has approved several GE plants foods under the novel food pathway, but has not approved an animal foods to date. Canada tends to lag behind the U.S. with respect to regulation in this area, but with the U.S. approval of AquAdvantage Salmon, it may only be a matter of time before GE animal foods appear on the Canadian market.
A list of approved novel foods in Canada can be found here.