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PEI chapter opposes genetically modified salmon at public consultation

The Council of Canadians PEI chapter is opposing a proposed commercial operation for genetically modified fish in Rollo Bay West, a community about 73 kilometres east of Charlottetown.

The chapter is at a public meeting tonight at the Fortune Community Centre organized by the PEI Department of Communities, Land and Environment.

The genetically modified AquaAdvantage brand Atlantic salmon are produced by the Massachusetts-based company AquaBounty. The salmon 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. In other words, the salmon are genetically modified to grow at twice the rate of regular salmon. As originally proposed, the salmon would be raised in Bay Fortune, PEI and then exported to Panama where they would be grown to full size in above-ground tanks.

The CBC now reports, “The company that proposed to set up a conventional salmon broodstock facility in Rollo Bay West, has changed its proposal to also raise genetically modified salmon to market size on the site. AquaBounty Canada Inc. has submitted an amended proposal to P.E.I.’s environment department, laying out plans to construct two 40,000 square foot buildings, and to rear GMO salmon at the Rollo Bay West site.”

AquaBounty’s original plan was to raise conventional salmon in the Rollo Bay West facility that would provide eggs that would then be transferred to its GMO salmon plant in Bay Fortune. The proposal now is for GMO salmon to be raised to market size at an expanded site in Rollo Bay West.

The Guardian notes, “The company currently produces GMO eggs in P.E.I. that are then sent to grow out in Panama.”

In December 2013, Environment Canada granted AquaBounty permission to export up to 100,000 GM fish eggs a year to Panama. In May 2016, both Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved the genetically-modified salmon for sale as food – without a label noting that it is a genetically modified product. At that time, Health Minister Jane Philpott said it would be a year and a half until the product will be ready for market – meaning around November 2017.

The Guardian highlights, “Islanders can also provide written comments to dethompson@gov.pe.ca on the proposed project for 10 days following the session.” That would put the deadline at May 5.

The Council of Canadians — in collaboration with the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network — has been opposing AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon since September 2010.

For more information and ways in which you can take action on this issue, please see the CBAN website here.