Genetically engineered salmon are heading to supermarket shelves despite environmentalists’ fears that fish could escape and wreak havoc

The decision marks the first time that a ‘transgenic’ animal will be available for the US public to buy and eat

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The Independent Online

Genetically engineered salmon will be available to buy for the first ever time, after US regulators approved the sale of the altered fish.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval marks the end of a huge controversy about the fish species.

The argument over whether the fish should be sold in the US comes to a close five years after the agency decided that the fish was safe. Since then it has been opposed by consumer and environmental groups, who fear that the animal might not be safe to eat and could wreak havoc on waterways if it escaped.

But the FDA has now approved the fish for sale in the US. "They have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat," said Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The approval doesn't mean that the fish cna be bred or raised in the US, and it will instead be farmed in special tanks in Canada and Panama.

The fish is called AquAdvantage Salmon and was developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies. The company has said that it may not be able to grow enough of the fish for years.

And shops may refuse even to sell it, because of the strong public opposition.

But if shops do sell the fish, customers might not be aware. The company won’t have to label the fish as genetically modified because regulators have decided that there is no concrete difference between them and normal products.