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Coalition Demands Govt Openness On GE Salmon

Salmonids Sustainability Food safety & handling +5 more

CANADA - Sixty fisheries and oceans conservation, environmental and social justice groups revealed that Environment Canada refuses to confirm or deny if the department has already started a secret 120-day risk assessment to approve genetically engineered (GE) salmon egg production on Prince Edward Island.

Documents released in September by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that the US company AquaBounty is seeking approval to sell its GE salmon into the US food market based on a plan to produce all its GE salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island (PEI) and then ship the eggs to Panama for grow out and processing. Following this revelation, groups made inquiries to Environment Canada but were told that any information about a possible risk assessment is confidential. The groups are calling for full disclosure and demanding that Environment Canada cease any approval process that may already be underway.

“We call on Environment Canada to reject any request for permission to commercially produce genetically engineered fish or fish eggs,” said Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper Coordinator, “Environment Canada needs to immediately inform Canadians if they have started an environmental assessment for GE salmon egg production. This secrecy is totally unacceptable.”

“Farmed fish can and do escape. Genetically engineered salmon is an unacceptable and unnecessary threat to endangered wild Atlantic salmon,” said Shauna MacKinnon of Living Oceans Society in BC. “When GE fish escape into wild populations, studies indicate that wild fish are at risk of decline.”

“We don’t want Prince Edward Island to be the global origin of dangerous GE salmon,” said Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians on PEI. A coalition of PEI groups is asking Premier Robert Ghiz to intervene and insist on disclosure from Environment Canada (2). “It’s highly disturbing that we only found out about the company’s plans for Prince Edward Island from US consultations,” said Broderick who attended US FDA hearings in September.

The company AquaBounty has engineered a faster growing Atlantic salmon by inserting a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout (an eel-like creature).

“Documents released by the US government reveal that the company is assuming it will get permission to produce all of its GE salmon eggs in Canada,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “Minister of Environment John Baird must take immediate action to stop genetically engineered salmon eggs from being produced in Canada. We have a global responsibility to protect Atlantic salmon from this dangerous technology.”