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article imageGM salmon moves closer to sale in Canada

By Tim Sandle     Nov 30, 2013 in Environment
Environment Canada has permitted the company AquaBounty Technologies to produce its genetically-modified fish eggs on a commercial scale.
AquaBounty Technologies are based on Prince Edward Island. The firm produces genetically modified salmon that grow twice as fast as non-GM salmon. The GM salmon, called AquAdvantage, are Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) with an extra gene from Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) engineered into their genomes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Environment Canada made its conclusion following a risk assessment conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada involving a panel of independent scientific experts knowledgeable in the fields of transgenics and fish containment technology.
It should be noted that GM salmon is still not approved for human consumption in Canada. However, the decision by Environment Canada moves the possibility of GM salmon appearing in stores much closer.
Genetically modified foods (sometimes called GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified microorganisms (often abbreviated to GMOs). The GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. The salmon is what is classed as transgenic food. Transgenic means that genes have been inserted into one plant or fish (or animal) that are derived from another species.
In an attempt to allay fears of many consumers, AquaBounty CEO Ron Stotish told The Canadian Press: "It’s only the status of the facility moving from research and development to essentially a facility that could be used for commercial purposes. We would be regulated as a novel food in Canada for actual consumption of the fish and that is a separate approval process."
However, some Canadians are not happy with the decision. Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network told The Guardian that: "This is one concrete step closer to the reality of GM fish on our plates, and unfortunately it is a really dramatic step. It’s a global first, and it has a significant global potential impact for our environment. It starts a chain of decisions that could be just disastrous for our aquatic ecosystems."
In the U.S., a genetically engineered salmon was approved by regulators after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the fish did not pose a threat either to the environment or to consumers.
More about Salmon, Gmo, Genetically modified, Fish
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