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Health Canada & CFIA approve GM salmon as food in Canada

The Council of Canadians opposes the approval of genetically modified salmon for sale as food in Canada.

AquAdvantage, produced by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and a gene from an ocean pout. The result is a fish that is large enough to eat in about a year and a half, rather than the typical three years. As such, the salmon are genetically modified to grow at twice the rate of regular salmon. The eggs for the salmon are raised in a facility in the eastern Prince Edward Island community of Bay Fortune and then exported to Panama where they’re grown in tanks.

CBC reports, “At a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon has been approved for sale as food in Canada. …’GM foods are becoming more common every day and are part of the regular diets of Canadians. GM foods that have been approved by Health Canada have been consumed in Canada for many years, and are safe and nutritious’, wrote Health Canada.”

The article highlights, “Health Canada will not require AquAdvantage Salmon sold on Canadian grocery store shelves to be labelled as a  genetically modified product.” iPolitics adds, “The salmon has been approved for both livestock and human consumption. It is the first genetically modified animal to be approved for use in Canada. The approval extends to filets for human consumption and feeds like fish meal and fish oil.”

Health Minister Jane Philpott said today it will be another year and a half until the product will be ready for market, while Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says he has eaten food made with genetically modified crops and that he would eat genetically modified salmon too.

Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick commented today, “There are still many unanswered questions about the Canadian government’s approval of of this GM salmon. It is also unclear if AquaBounty plans to grow these salmon at Bay Fortune for the Canadian market. What is clear about this – little transparency!”

The Council of Canadians has been opposing genetically modified salmon since September 2010.

Take action!

The Council of Canadians is a member of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). In response to today’s announcement, CBAN called on people to “Email, write or call your Member of Parliament – you can search for your MP’s contact using your postal code at www.parl.gc.ca Write to your grocery chain and ask them not to stock any GM salmon – click here for grocery store contacts.”