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Council of Canadians opposes FDA approval of genetically-modified salmon as food

PEI GM Frankenfish

Photo: Sharon Labchuk, Mary Boyd and Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick protest outside AquaBounty’s facility in Bay Fortune, Nov. 19, 2015. Photo by V. Broderick.

The Council of Canadians has opposed the genetically modified AquaAdvantage salmon for years. Today, CBC reports, “[The] genetically modified salmon has been approved as food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

That article notes, “The fish are genetically modified to grow at twice the rate of regular salmon.” And the Washington Post explains, “AquAdvantage, produced by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and has been given a gene from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish. The result is a fish that is large enough for consumption in about a year and a half, rather than the typical three years.”

The CBC article adds, “The eggs for the salmon are raised in a facility in the eastern P.E.I. community of Bay Fortune and exported to Panama, where they’re grown in above-ground tanks.” That’s in part because, ” The FDA said its approval does not allow this fast-growing salmon to be bred or grown in the U.S.”

CBC also notes, “Meanwhile, a Federal Court hearing this week in Ottawa is challenging Environment Canada’s approval for AquaBounty to produce eggs at its P.E.I. facility.” That court challenge is being led by Ecology Action Centre and Ecojustice. “The parties are asking the Federal Court to overturn the approval and stop the export of these eggs.”

The Council of Canadians has long opposed the approval of genetically modified salmon:

  • September 2010: we participated in a rally again GM salmon in Charlottetown,

  • October 2010: vice-chair Leo Broderick attended FDA hearings in the United States on GM salmon,

  • October 2010: we promoted both Food and Water Watch and Canadian Biotechnology Action Network petitions against GM salmon,

  • November 2010: we demanded that Environment Canada disclose information about an environmental assessment of GM salmon,

  • January 2011: Broderick secured a promise from the PEI government to pursue more transparency around export plans by AquaBounty,

  • October 2011: Broderick participated in a four-city speaking tour against GM salmon with public events in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Halifax, and St. John’s,

  • January 2012: we highlighted in a blog that if GM salmon is approved in the US, the Canadian government could choose to approve it in Canada to avoid trade complications.

In December 2012, the Associated Press reported that the FDA had released its environmental assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, which stated that it is unlikely to harm the environment. That article noted, “Wenonah Hauter, director of the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, urged members of Congress to block the impending approval of the fish.” Today she wrote, “Food & Water Watch will be examining all options to stop this controversial and unnecessary GMO fish from reaching the marketplace. We urge President Obama to overturn FDA’s approval and stop GMO salmon from reaching consumers’ dinner plates.”

The Federal Court ruling in Canada is expected in three to six months time.

This approval is a major development in that it’s the first genetically modified animal approved for sale as food in the world.