4.5 tonnes of un­marked ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied salmon fil­lets sold in Canada

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

It ap­pears Cana­di­ans were among the first din­ers in the world to eat a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied an­i­mal — and they likely didn’t know it.

U.S.-based AquaBounty Tech­nolo­gies said in a re­cent fis­cal up­date about 4.5 tonnes of its fresh AquAd­van­tage salmon fil­lets were sold in Canada be­tween April and June.

The com­pany got ap­proval from Health Canada and the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion agency last year to sell the prod­uct.

AquaBounty CEO Ron­ald Sto­tish said in the quar­terly re­port re­leased ear­lier this month that the Cana­dian dis­tri­bu­tion marked “the very first sales of AquAd­van­tage salmon.”

“The sale and dis­cus­sions with po­ten­tial buy­ers clearly demon­strate that cus­tomers want our fish, and we look for­ward to in­creas­ing our pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity to meet de­mand.”

AquaBounty — which has a pro­duc­tion plant in P.E.I. — did not say ex­actly where the salmon was sold. The com­pany’s spokesman did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Health Canada doesn’t re­quire la­belling on ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food, say­ing the items have been as­sessed for safety and nu­tri­tional stan­dards.

AquaBounty’s salmon con­tains ge­netic ma­te­rial from ocean pout and Chi­nook salmon to help it reach adult size faster.

Lucy Shar­ratt, co-or­di­na­tor of the Cana­dian Biotech­nol­ogy Ac­tion Net­work, said news of the sales with­out ad­vance pub­lic no­tice is alarm­ing.

“It’s shock­ing,” she said from Ottawa. “Cana­di­ans are the first in the world to eat this ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied fish, the world’s first ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food an­i­mal, and they did so un­know­ingly. And even now that we know (it’s) on the mar­ket in Canada, we don’t know where or how much.”

Shar­ratt said ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied foods aren’t linked to spe­cific health is­sues. Still, she de­scribed a gap­ing lack of pub­lic in­for­ma­tion.

“For 20 years, ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied foods have been in­tro­duced with no trans­parency in the mar­ket­place but, equally, no trans­parency in reg­u­la­tion. There’s very lit­tle pub­lic sci­ence. There’s very lit­tle gov­ern­ment sci­ence.

“Cana­di­ans are be­ing asked to trust cor­po­rate data and a process that is not open for them to look at.”

Shar­ratt said AquaBounty has moved to ex­pand its re­search and egg pro­duc­tion site in P.E.I. with a new “ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied fish fac­tory” at Rollo Bay in the prov­ince.

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