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Canada approves commercial production of GM salmon eggs

The Guardian UK reports, “Canada has given the go-ahead to commercial production of genetically modified salmon eggs, bringing the world’s first GM food animal closer to supermarkets and dinner tables. In a decision buried in routine business in the Canada Gazette, Environment Canada said it had granted a US biotechnology firm, AquaBounty Technologies Inc, permission to export up to 100,000 GM fish eggs a year from a hatchery in Prince Edward Island to a site high in the Panamanian rainforest.”

“The decision marked the first time any government had given the go-ahead to commercial scale production involving a GM food animal.”

In short, “The GM fish splices growth genes from a Chinook salmon and a seal eel onto an Atlantic salmon – which AquaBounty claims enables the altered animal to grow twice as fast as a regular fish.”

The article notes, “The Canadian government said in its decision that the GM fish presented a high risk to Atlantic salmon, in the event of an escape, and a spokesman was adamant there would be no immediate sale or consumption of GM salmon eggs in Canada. …But the limited approval still represents a big win for AquaBounty which has fought for 20 years to bring GM salmon to American dinner tables.”

In terms of implications for the United States, “The move clears the way for AquaBounty to scale up production of the salmon at its sites in PEI and Panama in anticipation of eventual approval by American authorities. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to render a decision in the near future on the sale of GM salmon, and in due course some 30 other species of GM fish currently under development, campaigners and industry figures said.”

The Council of Canadians and the US-based Food & Water Watch oppose GM salmon.

Further reading

Canadians reject genetically modified fish
Trade imperatives could prompt approval of GE salmon in Canada
Broderick raises concerns about GM fish on Atlantic tour
Groups rally in PEI against GM salmon
Broderick attends FDA hearings on GM salmon