GM salmon from AquaBounty. (Photo Credit: AquaBounty)
NGOs sue federal Govt over GM salmon
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
Federal Government is being sued by environmental organisations questioning that the American firm AquaBounty Technologies had been granted permission to produce genetically modified fish eggs in Canada.
The Massachusetts-based company had been requesting the permit since 1995 and managed to be allowed to produce fertile salmon eggs in Prince Edward Island and ship them to Panama, where they will be grown, The Guardian reported.
According to the NGOs starting the lawsuit -- the Ecology Action Centre and the Living Oceans Society -- the Canadian government had breached its own environmental laws by providing AquaBounty with a far wider permit than it was assessed on, potentially opening the way for other companies to produce GM fish eggs in Canada.
In addition, they denounce that authorities did not follow the correct procedures in its approval.
Meanwhile, sources from the US firm insist that its genetically modified fish pose no threat to the environment and will be kept in special disease- and antibiotic-free conditions.
Aquabounty’s representatives explain that the modified fish can grow to the size of wild salmon with 75 per cent less feed, reducing the product’s carbon footprint by up to 25 times.
However, the NGOs do no consider GM experiments as positive and stress that they are confident “the GM industry wants to get other animal products approved after this.”
“We think the measures to avoid mixing with the wild Atlantic salmon are inadequate and once there is genetic contamination the wild salmon is forever changed. It would be a huge live experiment and we wouldn’t know the consequences,” warned Mark Butler, campaigner at the Ecology Action Centre.
Meanwhile, Natalie Huneault, a spokesperson with Environment Canada, said authorities conducted a thorough risk assessment of genetically-modified AquAdvantage salmon, National Observer informed.
The official said the Government concluded that “there were no concerns identified to the environment or to the indirect health of Canadians due to the contained production of these GM fish eggs for export.”
On the other hand, Aquabounty’s CEO Ron Stotish, claimed that: “AquaBounty is confident the Government of Canada will prevail in this action, and we believe the case brought by the two non-governmental organizations is completely without merit.”
In a November release, the firm said Environment Canada's approval was based on a close study of its hatchery facility in PEI, and the opinion of a panel of independent scientific experts through the department of Fisheries and Oceans.