Skip to content

NEWS: CFIA moves against PEI lab after scientific findings that could lead to export restrictions on BC salmon

For the Harper government, it appears that trade trumps science and public health.

The Globe and Mail reports, “A lab that revealed the first evidence of an infectious virus in British Columbia salmon should be stripped of its international credentials, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). …The lab is run by Frederick Kibenge at the Atlantic Veterinary College-University of Prince Edward Island.”

“The CFIA has long maintained infectious salmon anemia (ISA) is not present on the West Coast. If the disease is confirmed by the government, it could lead to export restrictions on B.C. salmon. The (CFIA) has promised to sample nearly 8,000 salmon in B.C. in response to concerns about ISA. But the results of those tests are not yet known…”

And yet, “the CFIA has challenged the validity of Dr. Kibenge’s tests, saying government labs couldn’t replicate his results. The letter (to the World Organization for Animal Health – known as the OIE – calling for the lab to be stripped of its international credentials) has surprised experts, who worry the government is trying to silence a scientist whose findings the CFIA disputes. …(In addition) after Dr. Kibenge’s findings were made public at a Simon Fraser University press conference in October, his lab was hit with two audits – one in November, 2011, by the CFIA, and a second in August, by an independent panel appointed by the Canadian government and the OIE.”

“In an interview, Dr. Kibenge said he believes the CFIA pushed both audits in order to punish him for his inconvenient findings, which he testified about last year before the Cohen Commission, a recently completed federal inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in B.C. ‘What they are doing here is essentially punishing me for having testified at the Cohen Commission and trying to suppress the findings that we’ve been finding. It’s an attack on my credibility,’ he said.”

CTV reports, “Friends of the Earth Canada, is calling for an independent investigation of the food-inspection agency, saying the agency is trying to ‘silence’ Kibenge… ‘This can only be a witch hunt against someone who doesn’t agree with the government line and is suffering from the government’s bullying,’ Beatrice Olivastri, a spokeswoman for the group, said in a statement to media. The group argues decertification would reduce the ability of Canadians to know about the disease in salmon and could have an international impact because people in other countries send samples to Kibenge’s lab.” The Friends of the Earth media release can be read at http://foecanada.org/en/tag/frederick-kibenge/.

This past July, the Council of Canadians participated in the ‘Death of Evidence’ rally on Parliament Hill which protested the recent cuts to many scientific programs and the muzzling of scientists by the Harper government, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16144.