Canada has become the first country where a genetically modified animal is sold for human consumption, and Canadians may have unwittingly been eating it over the past year
EXCERPT: “Because there’s no labelling in Canada, Canadians who have been buying salmon, haven’t had a choice,’ [Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Ottawa-based Canadian Biotechnology Action Network] said. “There’s no transparency in the grocery store for Canadians. Canada is an easy market for GM salmon.”
Canadians unknowingly eating GM food
The Telegraph, 9 Aug 2017
Canada has become the first country where a genetically modified animal is sold for human consumption, and Canadians may have unwittingly been eating it over the past year.
In its latest earnings statement, AquaBounty Technologies Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company that holds the licence to produce the GM fish at a hatchery in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, reported that about 4.5 tonnes of "fresh AquAdvantage Salmon fillets” have been sold in Canada in the second quarter of 2017.
“Discussions with potential buyers clearly demonstrate[s] that customers want our fish, and we look forward to increasing our production capacity to meet demand,” said AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish in a statement.
The company did not indicate where the fish is sold or respond to an interview request.
Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Ottawa-based Canadian Biotechnology Action Network that has called for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered food, said that while some major Canadian grocery chains have no plans to sell the GM salmon, it could have ended up in smaller stores or on restaurant menus.
“Because there’s no labelling in Canada, Canadians who have been buying salmon, haven’t had a choice,’ she said. “There’s no transparency in the grocery store for Canadians. Canada is an easy market for GM salmon.”
Ms. Sharratt said that public polling over the past 20 years has shown that over 75 percent of Canadians want GM foods labelled. Yet in May, members of the Canadian House of Commons voted down a private member’s bill that called for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods.
“The Canadian government does not even track which genetically modified foods are on the market,” said Ms. Sharatt.
Last year, AquaBounty received regulatory approval from the Canadian government to sell its GM salmon, which has also been deemed to be safe for human consumption from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States where there is also no requirement for mandatory GM food labelling.
AquaBounty’s salmon has yet to be sold in the U.S.
Glasgow-born marine biologist Garth Fletcher, who led a research team at Memorial University in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador that created the GM salmon in 1989 and who led the Canadian subsidiary of AquaBounty until his retirement in 2005, was surprised, yet delighted, to learn that the fish is being consumed in Canada after decades of legal challenges from GM-food opponents.
“Canada and the U.S. have approved it as safe – and I’ve eaten it for years,” he said.
AquaBounty’s Atlantic salmon features genetic material from both ocean pout and Chinook salmon, which makes the hybrid fish grow faster, from the usual three years to 18 months.
Mr. Fletcher’s team also created a GM rainbow trout that has yet to be approved.