Home Americas Americas: Canadian approval of GE salmon egg production draws sharp criticism

Americas: Canadian approval of GE salmon egg production draws sharp criticism

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The Center for Food Safety has denounced the Canadian government’s decision to approve commercial production of genetically engineered (GE) salmon eggs on Prince Edward’s Island (PEI).

In a dubiously complicated production scheme, the company responsible for the GE salmon plans to produce the eggs on PEI, ship them to be raised in a small facility in Panama, and then ultimately sell the GE fish to consumers in the US.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved the GE salmon.

“GE salmon production, in Canada or anywhere else, threatens native salmon survival around the world. The Center for Food Safety has spearheaded US opposition to approval of this experimental GE fish for over a decade because of its inherent irreversible harms,” said executive director Andrew Kimbrell.

Canada is the first government to grant approval to the company AquaBounty to raise its GE salmon for commercial production.

It has previously only permitted the company to do research.

The Canadian government has not yet approved the fish for consumption in Canada.

If fully approved, it would be the first GE animal commercialized for human consumption.

Petition filed

While approval is controversially moving forward in Canada, new questions about the viability of AquaBounty’s production plan and facilities are being raised elsewhere.

Late last week, a legal petition filed in Panama by the environmental group Centro de Incidencia Ambiental de Panama (CIAM) with Panama’s Environmental Agency  revealed that AquaBounty’s experimental production facility is missing multiple legally required permits and inspections, including a wastewater discharge permit.

The petition was supported by an international coalition of organizations including Center for Food Safety, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Food & Water Watch US, Food & Water Europe, Friends of the Earth, and GeneWatch.

Recent reports show the Panamanian facility to be far from the high-tech plant promised by AquaBounty in its application to FDA.

Instead, it appears to be without simple precautions and it is vulnerable to extreme weather, such as flooding, which is common in the area.

Reports of fish escapes from the Panamanian facility have already surfaced and similar concerns have been raised in Canada about the AquaBounty facility on Prince Edward Island located only 120 feet from a major waterway known to still contain Atlantic salmon.

Salmon are farmed in industrial netpens in the open ocean, where millions escape every year.

Although AquaBounty and the FDA have limited their assessment to only the Panama and Prince Edward Island facilities, documents uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act and the company’s public pronouncements show that AquaBounty has no plans to stop there, and instead fully intends to grow the fish at other locations around the world, raising a myriad of other foreseeable risks, yet still completely unanalyzed, said the Center for Food Safety.