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Press Release

Embargoed to 11:00 EST

“Feds should rule out GM food animals,” citizens’ group urges

Ottawa, April 2, 2012 – Today, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) welcomed reports that the University of Guelph, the Canadian university that developed the controversial genetically modified (GM) pig called “Enviropig,” is closing down its active research on what could have become the first GM food animal approved in the world.

According to a report in the Ontario Farmer newspaper, the hog industry group Ontario Pork has redirected its funding away from genetically modified pig research. Without this funding, the university is ending its breeding program of the GM pigs.

“There’s no demand or need for genetically modifying food animals. The federal government should stop accepting requests to approve GM food animals,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN, a coalition of 18 groups that campaigned to prevent the GM food pigs from being approved for consumers. “The University of Guelph should now withdraw its request for approval from Health Canada and not pursue commercialization. It’s time to end all attempts to bring GM animals to market.”

“Enviropig” was engineered using genetic material from a mouse to reduce phosphorus in the pig’s feces. The University of Guelph began its GM pig research in 1995 and requested food safety approval from regulatory authorities in Canada and the U.S. in 2009. While Canada approved reproduction of the GM pigs in February 2010, no government has approved “Enviropig” for human consumption and no GM pigs have ever been sold commercially.

“It’s clear that consumers oppose GM animals so we’re relieved the project is being shelved. The GM pig was going to drive consumers away from eating pork if it was ever approved for market,” said Paul Slomp, Youth Vice-President of the National Farmers Union. “This GM pig fiasco could have permanently damaged our domestic and international pork markets.”

CBAN will now focus its attention on another problem: a GM Atlantic salmon could be under review by the Canadian government. Regulatory departments refuse to tell Canadians whether or not they are evaluating the GM fish for approval.

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext. 25; Paul Slomp, National Farmers Union, cell: 613 898 9136