FDA Settles Long-Standing Lawsuit Over Genetically Engineered Salmon for Undisclosed Amount

On Wednesday, the Northern District of California issued an order dismissing the case of Institute for Fisheries Resources et al. v. Hahn after the parties settled the lawsuit through mediation.

The lawsuit was initiated by several nonprofits that advocate for commercial fisherman, environmental protection, preservation and protection of salmon and/or food safety including the Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Kennebec Reborn, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Ecology Action Centre, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch, the Quinault Indian Nation and Center for Food Safety.  

According to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint, the lawsuit challenged the FDA’s November 19, 2015 decision to approve an application by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. to develop, market and sell for human consumption genetically engineered salmon. The complaint argues that the FDA made the decision without considering or fully disclosing the environmental and other risks of the unprecedented decision.  

Further, the plaintiffs argued that the decision is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act by not adequately assessing the full range of potentially significant environmental and ecological effects of the decision. The plaintiffs specifically raised concerns about the FDA’s assessment of the likelihood that the engineered salmon would escape from captivity and adversely affect normal and endangered salmon. 

Following cross motions for summary judgment by both parties, the court issued a judgment on November 5, 2020, granting in part and denying in part both parties motions for summary judgment. In the order, the court stated that the FDA did not adequately assess the risk of harm before making a finding of no significant impact and granted the plaintiffs’ motion in regard to three claims, but granted the government’s motion in regards to all other claims.   

Following the Court’s November 5th judgment, the Court filed an order of reference for settlement on April 1, 2022 which led to the current settlement. The exact details of the settlement have not been disclosed. The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Office of Adam Keats, PC