P.E.I. groups oppose genetically modified salmon
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:05PM EDT
A coalition of consumer and environmental groups rallied in Prince Edward Island on Thursday to condemn a U.S. company's plan to produce genetically modified salmon, the first transgenic animal set for human consumption.
Aqua Bounty, which has a large production facility in Bay Fortune, P.E.I., submitted its genetically modified salmon for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and says it will soon seek approval in Canada.
Genes from Pacific salmon and ocean pout have been added to Atlantic salmon to make it grow twice as fast, a move the company claims will reduce pressure on wild fish stocks.
The FDA indicated earlier this month that the salmon is safe to eat, though it won't make a final ruling until later this month, after a series of public hearings on the issue.
But the coalition opposing Aqua Bounty maintains there are "gaps in the science" cited by the FDA in deeming the fish safe.
"We're really concerned that the U.S. government is not seriously looking at the health risks of eating (genetically engineered) fish," Mary Boyd of the PEI Health Coalition said in a statement Thursday.
"Certainly Health Canada should not even consider approving (genetically engineered) fish," she added.
PEI environment advocates fear the province's ecosystem could be at risk, since Aqua Bounty intends to produce all the genetically modified fish eggs at the Bay Fortune facility.
The eggs would then be shipped to Panama for growing out – getting the fish to sellable size – and processing before the fish enters the U.S. market.
"If the U.S. approves the (genetically engineered) salmon, it will open the door to (genetically engineered) fish and other dangerous (genetically engineered) animals in Canada and the rest of the world," said Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
Aqua Bounty says it has provided the FDA with all the required information and taken the necessary steps to prevent the fish from mixing with wild stocks. The fish are kept in tanks on land, and 99 per cent are sterile, the company has said.
The coalition is planning to attend the public hearings, which start in Maryland on Sunday.