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Trade rules could force GE salmon into Canada

The Globe and Mail reports that a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon may soon be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The article explains, “Tweaked with genetic material from chinook salmon and an eel-like creature called an ocean pout, it reaches market size twice as fast as normal Atlantic salmon, the company (Aqua Bounty Technologies) says.”

“The Massachusetts-headquartered company, which has operations in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, has not applied for approval in Canada. But trade law could force Ottawa’s hand following U.S. approval, making it irrelevant whether the Canadian consumer wants these fish or not.”

Lawrence Herman, senior counsel with Cassels Brock in Toronto, says, “If it could be shown that the U.S. law met all accepted international health and safety standards, it might call into question whether (a) Canadian import ban is legally necessary to protect Canadians. Under international trade law, an import ban can be struck down if there are less trade-restrictive avenues available to meet health and safety concerns.”

“Briefing notes prepared recently for Fisheries Minister Gail Shea acknowledge that GE fish being approved in the United States could provoke trade issues and public concerns in Canada. The document (obtained under the Access to Information Act) notes that consumers might be concerned about Ottawa’s ability to keep out these fish and warns the United States would probably press Canada to speed up its own approval.”

The briefing notes also state, “If Canada were to approve GE salmon for food use at some point in the future, there could be implications for Canada’s export of non-GE salmon if foreign buyers of Canadian salmon (e.g. European Union members) are not confident in Canada’s ability to prove segregation and the non-GE status of Canadian fish exports.”

The article reports, “Under current Canadian law, GE foods do not need to be labelled.”

The full article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090520.FISH20ISLART2249/TPStory/TPNational/?page=rss&id=GAM.20090520.FISH20ISLART2249