Coun­cil lists GM con­cerns

We will con­tinue to work with oth­ers to have this project stopped at Rollo Bay West

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY LEO BRODERICK Leo Broderick is vice-pres­i­dent, Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans, Char­lot­te­town

Many on this Is­land hav­ing been work­ing for years to pre­vent P.E.I. from be­com­ing the “home of the world’s first franken­fish.”

The Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans P.E.I. Chap­ter sub­mit­ted the fol­low­ing to the provin­cial gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing the re­quest of AquaBounty to grow and mar­ket GM salmon on P.E.I. Sadly, none of our con­cerns were ad­dressed by the prov­ince.

We have re­viewed the Amended En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact State­ment for AquaBounty Canada Inc.

We say that this pro­posal is more than an amended ver­sion; we view it as an en­tirely new project as the pur­pose of the fa­cil­ity has changed sig­nif­i­cantly. AquaBounty is propos­ing the fa­cil­ity at Rollo Bay West now be used to rear AquAd­van­tage salmon, a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied salmon, from eyed egg to mar­ket size within the fa­cil­ity.

In our sub­mis­sion on AquaBounty’s first pro­posal we urged cau­tion, say­ing, “If ap­proval is given to this fa­cil­ity we be­lieve this cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity for AquaBounty to turn it into a GM pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity some­time in the fu­ture.” We were right.

Our con­cerns are as fol­lows:

1. In the re­port it says, AquaBounty will only pro­duce ster­ile fe­males at the Rollo Bay West fac­tory. How­ever, the plan AquaBounty sub­mit­ted to FDA (USA) can only guar­an­tee steril­ity for 95 per cent of the eggs at a com­mer­cial scale. More­over, AquaBounty will need to keep stocks of fer­tile fish to pro­duce new off­spring.

The risk of this GM salmon to wild At­lantic salmon pop­u­la­tions and other fish species is there, even in a land-based fa­cil­ity es­pe­cially so close to a stream and the Northum­ber­land Strait.

2. Cli­mate change and warmer oceans may also give GM salmon an ad­van­tage over wild pop­u­la­tions. Re­search has found that GM salmon are bet­ter able to sur­vive in warmer wa­ters and to adapt to shift­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions than wild salmon.

3. Farmed salmon typ­i­cally need to con­sume three pounds of food in or­der to gain a sin­gle pound, mak­ing them a highly in­ef­fi­cient way to pro­duce protein for the world. Ac­cord­ing to com­pany data, the AquAd­van­tage salmon may con­sume up to five times more food than its non-GM coun­ter­part due to the GM salmon’s need to pro­duce growth hor­mone year round.

4. We are very con­cerned about the use of ground­wa­ter. In the new project we are told that each of the Rollo Bay West fa­cil­i­ties will op­er­ate as a 99.7 per cent Re­cir­cu­lat­ing Aqua­cul­ture Sys­tem) us­ing a small amount of make-up wa­ter pro­vided from one of four en­gi­neered PW’s wells on the prop­erty. This is a much bet­ter sit­u­a­tion. But based on our ex­pe­ri­ence with Aqua Bounty at Bay For­tune, it’s han­dling of waste­water is a prob­lem.

5. Data on hu­man health im­pacts of GM are not many, but some stud­ies pro­vide cause for se­ri­ous con­cern. For ex­am­ple, the rou­tine use of an­tibi­otics to con­trol dis­eases of­ten found in farm-raised fish may al­ready be im­pact­ing hu­man health. If AquaBounty is cor­rect in claim­ing its GM salmon are less fit than wild salmon, they could in turn be sus­cep­ti­ble to more dis­eases than fish cur­rently grown in aqua­cul­ture fa­cil­i­ties. The amount of an­tibi­otics given to GM salmon may be higher than the amount given to nonGM fish.

6. We also point out that AquaBounty has a dis­as­trous en­vi­ron­men­tal record. AquaBounty had had a dis­ease out­break, an ac­ci­dent that led to lost salmon, and was fined US$ 9,500 when Pana­ma­nian reg­u­la­tors found AquaBounty in breach of en­vi­ron­men­tal laws.

The Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans P.E.I. Chap­ter is ask­ing that the P.E.I. En­vi­ron­ment De­part­ment re­ject the amended ap­pli­ca­tion from AquaBounty.

Given the sig­nif­i­cant change in the new plans for the fa­cil­ity, a new and com­plete en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment must be un­der­taken by the prov­ince and that there be pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions on this mat­ter across the prov­ince.

And we will con­tinue to work with oth­ers to have this project stopped.

FILE PHOTO

The GM salmon pro­duced by AquaBounty grows at a much ac­cel­er­ated rate than smaller, fish farm or wild salmon.

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