AS­SESS­MENT ON THE WAY

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

Fed­eral min­is­ter says it will be a re­quire­ment for GM sal­mon project for P.E.I.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment says a pro­posal to pro­duce the world’s first ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied sal­mon for hu­man con­sump­tion in P.E.I. will face an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

In a let­ter to a group of en­vi­ron­men­tal lobby groups, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna says any plan by AquaBounty Tech­nolo­gies to grow its AquAd­van­tage sal­mon at Rollo Bay would be sub­ject to strict re­quire­ments.

“Should AquaBounty wish to man­u­fac­ture or grow out the AquAd­van­tage sal­mon at this site, a new no­ti­fi­ca­tion will be re­quired pur­suant to the Cana­dian En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act, 1999,” McKenna wrote.

That’s wel­come news to Mark But­ler of the Ecol­ogy Ac­tion Cen­tre, an en­vi­ron­men­tal group based in Nova Sco­tia.

But­ler said he wants to see a sci­en­tific as­sess­ment of the en­vi­ron­men­tal risks be­fore ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied sal­mon is pro­duced for sale in Canada.

“This is the first GM food an­i­mal in the world that looks like it could make it to su­per­mar­ket shelves and there is yet to be an as­sess­ment of com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion and what it means for wild sal­mon,” he said Wed­nes­day.

But­ler said his group and others, in­clud­ing the Liv­ing Oceans So­ci­ety, Earth Ac­tion P.E.I. and Eco­jus­tice, are wor­ried about the risk of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied fish es­cap­ing and breed­ing with wild At­lantic sal­mon.

“You can’t put the ge­nie back in the bot­tle. You will then have wild fish with the ge­netic ma­te­rial from other species in them, some­thing that would never hap­pen in the wild,” he said.

In June, the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment ap­proved AquaBounty’s re­quest to be­gin con­struc­tion at the pro­posed land-based fa­cil­ity at Rollo Bay, prompt­ing op­po­nents to seek clar­ity from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Of­fi­cials with AquaBounty did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment

Wed­nes­day.

AquaBounty’s AquAd­van­tage sal­mon con­tains ge­netic ma­te­rial from ocean pout and Chi­nook sal­mon and is in­tended to grow to adult size quicker than con­ven­tional At­lantic sal­mon.

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