As for allergenicity concerns, Muir and Van Eenennaam contend that there are no data to support the claim that the genetically engineered salmon carry substantially more allergens than nongenetically engineered salmon. They also maintain that many fish consumed regularly, such as herring, are potentially more allergenic than either conventionally bred or AquAdvantage salmon.

The FDA concluded that AquAdvantage salmon were safe to eat and were not expected to have a significant environmental impact, given the proposed containment measures. But critics continue to charge that the regulatory agency has not adequately addressed their concerns, and have mounted political efforts to block the final approval necessary before the fish can be commercialized.

Muir and Van Eenennaam support the FDA’s science-based evaluation of the AquAdvantage salmon, and call for the agency to monitor the genetically engineered fish as they are raised commercially in captivity to check for any future problems. The researchers maintain that the lengthy review process — now in its 16th year for the AquAdvantage salmon — is uncalled for, especially given that similar review is not required for food animals with traits developed through conventional breeding.

"We realize that any new technology can have risks, and those risks need to be assessed in a thorough and convincing manner," Muir said. "However, once the assessment has been completed and the agency concludes from the weight of evidence that risks of harm, either to the environment or to consumers, is negligible, the next step, which is to allow production and sale of the product, needs to be taken."

In their commentary piece, both researchers state that they have no competing financial interests related to the genetically engineered salmon issue.