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AquAdvantage Salmon featured on our TasteTech menu

Anita Truong is a Master of Biomedical Technology graduate at the University of Calgary. She is currently an intern with Genome Alberta for the summer and one of her assignments is to profile some of the participants involved in our #TasteTECH event .

Genome Alberta, Corteva, and the ASTech foundation will be hosting the annual TasteTECH reception on June 5th as a Connect Event for the Inventure$ conference. We will be showcasing biotech inspired foods that are specially prepared by chefs at SAIT. At our inaugural TasteTECH reception last year, AquaBounty provided their AquAdvantge Salmon which will be back on this year’s tasting menu.

Founded in 1991, AquaBounty is a biotech company based in Massachusetts and Prince Edward Island that specializes in sustainable aquaculture, which is the farming of fish or plants in the water. The company pioneered the use of genetic engineering in aquaculture, having produced the first genetically-modified Atlantic salmon. According to AquaBounty, the AquAdvantage salmon tastes the same as Atlantic salmon and has all of the same nutrients.

After speaking to Dave Conley, the Director of Communications, I learned that the researchers inserted a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon, into Atlantic salmon. With the new gene, the fish grow to mature size in 16 to 20 months, as opposed to 32 to 36 months as seen in conventional breeding methods. The breeding process is unique and produces sterile female salmon to prevent interaction with the surrounding environment.

Additionally, the fish are raised in land-based recirculating aquaculture system facilities, where the water is recycled, and no chemicals or plastic contaminants are present. Another advantage to breeding salmon in aquaculture facilities close to consumer markets, is a reduction in carbon emissions which would normally be part of transporting salmon from abroad. This can reduce the carbon footprint by as much as 23-25 times in comparison to traditional sources of Atlantic salmon.

However, the largest challenge faced by AquaBounty was getting approval for the human consumption. 80 million dollars was spent on the regulatory process, which took almost 20 years. Despite this, AquaBounty proved their process was a sustainable alternative to aquaculture production and their salmon was safe for consumption. They recently received approval to produce and sell their salmon in the U.S. and are working towards getting approval in China, Brazil, Argentina and Israel.

The future for aquaculture is promising, with the company pursuing projects developing genetically-modified trout and tilapia to increase production yield. According to Dave, there are “big opportunities in aquaculture where people will start looking into developing disease resistant fish.” Register at http://bit.ly/2vGABSk so you can sample the latest AquaBounty recipe and other high-tech food served with a sustainability twist.

AquAdvantage Salmon featured on our TasteTech menu

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