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Aquaculture Seed stuck in Chile as genetic modification debated

by the Fish Site Editor
30 April 2007, at 1:00am

VANCOUVER - Close to 200 tonnes of a genetically modified seed, which is not allowed anywhere near Canadian dinner tables or farm fields, is sitting at a Chilean port waiting to be loaded onto a ship for Vancouver.

The safflower seed, laden with fish growth hormone, was due to leave Monday, slip into Vancouver in a few weeks and be trucked to Calgary for processing, say the Canadian entrepreneurs who engineered the seed for use in aquaculture.

But their plan is in limbo because the federal government late this week refused to issue the permit needed to import the seed into Canada.

"All of a sudden all these red flags have gone up at CFIA [Canadian Food Inspection Agency]," says Rick Keon, of SemBioSys Genetics Inc., whose shipment is stuck on a dock.

Welcome to molecular farming, or biopharming, in which plants are used to "grow" pharmaceuticals. It's a world in which Canadian officials are being asked to allow large quantities of drug-producing seed, which cannot be commercially grown in this country, to move back and forth across the Canadian border.

And it's a world in which entrepreneurs at SemBioSys, one of the darlings of Canada's biotechnology sector, say they have had little choice but to grow their high-tech crops offshore because of the endless and unresolved debate in Canada.

Source: CanWest News Service

the Fish Site Editor