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AquaBounty to pull out of Panama

Salmonids Biotechnology

AquaBounty has announced this week that it has decided to close down its operations in Panama, now that it can stock and grow its genetically modified AquAdvantage Salmon at its site in Indiana.

In its Q1 report, published this week, the company explained that it “is no longer necessary for the company to operate a farm in Panama”, at a site that was "originally set up in 2008 as a demonstration grow-out location for AquAdvantage Salmon in conjunction with the company’s New Animal Drug Application with the FDA".

The Q1 report also revealed net losses deepened to $2.76 million, compared to $2.45 million in the same quarter of 2018.

However, the report contains plenty of positives, not least the lifting of the FDA’s import alert, allowing the company to stock its genetically modified AquAdvantage Salmon eggs at its Indiana farm; the approval by Environment and Climate Change Canada for the company’s Rollo Bay production facility for the commercial grow-out of the same fish; and the completion of a public offering of common shares, which raised funds of $6.1 million.

Sylvia Wulf, CEO of AquaBounty, stated: “We ended the first quarter on a very positive note with the FDA’s lifting of the Import Alert on AquAdvantage Salmon and the successful completion of an equity fundraise. The action by the FDA will allow us to stock our Indiana facility with our fast-growing salmon eggs, while the new funding provides us with the needed resources to improve our balance sheet and grow out our fish at both our Indiana and Rollo Bay farms.”

In terms of personnel, Dr Ron Stotish, AquaBounty’s former CEO and current CTO, informed the company in March that he would be retiring at the end of June after thirteen years of service and thus would not stand for re-election as a member of the board.

During his tenure, Dr Stotish led the company’s campaign to obtain regulatory approval of AquAdvantage Salmon, the world’s first food animal to achieve such approval, both in the United States and Canada. He was also instrumental in securing the necessary financial support for the business and the construction of its first production farms.

Dr Stotish commented that: “It has been my great honour and pleasure to have led the team at AquaBounty to this critical stage in its development and this monumental accomplishment. I now look forward to watching the company move forward with its plans to grow and sell AquAdvantage Salmon under the guidance of Sylvia Wulf, creating a new food business in North America and internationally.”

Jack A Bobo informed the company of his intention to resign from the board and to withdraw as a director in connection with his departure from his position as senior vice president and chief communications officer of Intrexon Corporation, the company’s largest shareholder. Bobo had been a director since November 2015, providing his significant expertise in the analysis and communication of global trends in biotechnology, food and agriculture. He will be replaced by Jeffrey Perez, SVP intellectual property affairs of Intrexon Corporation.