As authorities in the United States and Canada are poised to approve genetically modified salmon, the Green Party of Canada urges Environment Canada to think twice. “We won’t be able to put this genie back in the bottle and the risks are simply not worth it. We must put public and environmental health above profit,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.
Under the proposal, genetically modified salmon eggs would be produced in Prince Edward Island by the US company Aqua Bounty. The eggs would then be shipped to Panama until the fish are ready to enter the North American markets for consumption. The Atlantic salmon eggs have been modified to contain genes from the Chinook salmon and the eel-like ocean pout, causing the fish to grow twice as fast. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still considering approval.
“We know from experience that fish have a habit of escaping. Our wild salmon would have no chance of competing against these Super-salmon. Wild stocks would be at risk of being totally wiped out,” said May.
The company promises that the fish created are sterile, but admit that up to 5% of the eggs could be fertile. Many US states are calling for a stop to the approval process.
“Conservation, environmental, and social justice groups have been calling for Environment Canada to be transparent about this process for nearly a year. Canadians deserve to know what the risks are and where we are in the process. Citizens should have access to any documents involved,” said May.
Environment Canada has maintained silence on the issue. It is not known whether the government has received an application from Aqua Bounty for the fish egg production, nor is it known whether Environment Canada has conducted any risk assessments.