September 21, 2010- Source: The Ottawa Citizen
The Canadian government could derail efforts to bring the first genetically engineered fish to the States by shutting the door on the company’s efforts to transform the Prince Edward Island research facility to a commercial operation. AquaBounty Technologies Inc. wants to become the first GE animal approved for human consumption. Concerns are around human health and environmental impact of the GE animal (AquaAdvantage salmon, genetically engineered to grow twice as fast with a gene from an eel-like fish and growth hormone from a chinook salmon). The FDA has declared that they are as safe to eat as other Atlantic salmon. The U.S. warns that if approved, the GE salmon would open the door for other modified animals without proper consideration. These fish might not be labelled GE in grocery stores! Canadian opponents also worry that Health Canada will go along with the FDA’s decision. Before they can get approved though they will have to assess whether a commercial hatchery for GE salmon is toxic to the environment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. If they deem so, they can block the enterprise.
UPDATE: Sept 22, 2010- Source: The Globe & Mail
The salmon could make its way to grocery shelves within the next two years if regulators approve. If approved, other GE animals will most likely enter the food chain in the U.S aswell. Consumers are trying to convince the FDA’s Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee that AquaBounty’s food safety assessments are not rigorous enough to meet FDA standards. The studies are based on insufficient sample size. One doctor claims that allergenicity risk is serious and must be looked at and claiming it “pathetic science”. The CEO says the salmon are raised in fresh water indoors; are bred to be infertile thus less risk of escaping into the ocean and contaminating wild stocks; safe to eat; have the same nutrition and texture of the Atlantic salmon. The other issue is if grocery stores are going to label it as such. GMO-free label is now the fastest growing store brand even though about 80% of conventional process food sold in the U.S. contains GMOs. The director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists raises a good question: what are the food safety issues in order to call this new food safe?