AquAdvantage Salmon and Other Current Issues in GMO Regulation

Sponsored by the Agricultural and Food Law Consortium


In late 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted approval to the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption – AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage salmon. AquaBounty introduced a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon into an Atlantic salmon to create AquAdvantage, which grows to market size twice as fast. The FDA’s approval was quite controversial, especially because the decision included a determination that additional labeling disclosing its GE nature would not be required. In January 2016, at the direction of Congress, the FDA banned the import and sale of AquAdvantage salmon until the agency develops and publishes labeling guidelines.

Although the controversy surrounding AquAdvantage salmon is most visible, it is limited to one aquaculture operation. A potentially larger area of controversy for the aquaculture industry is the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients, such as soy, in feed. The use of GM feeds could interfere with the ability of aquaculture producers to access some European markets or obtain organic certifications, if standards for aquaculture are approved in the future.

The regulation and labeling of GMO food products is a highly debated topic among consumers, the food industry, and lawmakers. In 2016 in response to increasing consumer GMO/GE concerns and pending state regulations, federal legislation was enacted to require GMO labeling. In January 2017, the Obama administration issued an update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.

This webinar will provide an overview of legal issues surrounding genetically engineered and genetically modified products in aquaculture, as well as, an overview of GMO regulatory issues, including labeling. The presentations will discuss the AquAdvantage salmon case study and recent legal developments.


This webinar was recorded on May 17, 2017.  To listen to a recording of the webinar, please click here.


Alexandra Chase
National Sea Grant Law Center

Alexandra Chase is the Ocean and Coastal Law Fellow with the National Sea Grant Law Center and the University of Mississippi School of Law. Alexandra received a B.A. in English, Anthropology and Sociology from Centre College and a J.D. from the Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville. She is licensed to practice law in Florida.  As the NSGLC fellow, Alexandra researches, publishes, and presents on legal and policy issues related to aquaculture, agriculture and food, and ocean and coastal matters. She also co-teaches an online Adaptive Planning and Resilience professional development course at the University of Louisville. Alexandra is also part of an interdisciplinary Adaptive Water Governance team publishing on social-ecological system resilience, climate change, and adaptive water topics. She has been a board member for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and believes in the value of community and stakeholder involvement.

Ross Pifer J.D., LL.M. 
Director, Center for Agricultural & Shale Law

Ross Pifer is a Clinical Law Professor at Penn State Law where he teaches agricultural law and serves as Director of the Center for Agricultural & Shale Law.  Ross has presented widely throughout Pennsylvania, as well as nationally and internationally, on shale gas and agricultural law topics to audiences comprised of judges, attorneys, legislators, government officials, landowners, and the general public. His research interests are shale gas development and the interface between agricultural and residential development as well as GMO labeling laws. He served as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of General Counsel, and has advised military personnel and commands in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, and Germany while on active duty with the U.S. Army JAG Corps at the Netherlands Law Center.   Among other publications, Ross has written an article on GMO labeling to be published in the Penn State Law Review.   Ross earned an LL.M. from the University of Arkansas School of Law Agricultural & Food Law Program, and is an active member of the American Agricultural Law Association.

Research & Materials:


AquaBounty Technologies

FDA Import Alert on GE Salmon

Health Canada Allows the Import of AquAdvantage Salmon

European Commission GMO Food & Feed

National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard – Public Law 114-216

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service – GMO Disclosure and Labeling

USDA Process Verified Program

2017 Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology