How to Avoid Eating GM Salmon
Am I unknowingly eating genetically engineered salmon?
Updated September 2018
If you ate farmed salmon sometime after June 6th 2017, you could have eaten the world’s first genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) food animal – a GM Atlantic salmon.
The GM Atlantic salmon are not labelled as genetically modified and the first sale was made in Canada without a public announcement. The sale of GM salmon happened in June but was only made public on August 4, 2017.
CBAN confirmed that 4.5 metric tonnes of GM salmon was sold into Quebec in June 2017. We have also confirmed that some was sold in grocery stores, but that most of the GM salmon was sold for food service. This means it could have been sold in restaurants or at institutions like universities and hospitals that rely on catering companies.
Import documents show that a shipment of 1.5 tonnes of GM salmon likely went to Ontario in February 2018.
Here’s what we know:
- All genetically modified (GM) salmon is farmed salmon, and all Atlantic salmon is farmed salmon. There is no wild Atlantic salmon fishery because Atlantic salmon is an endangered species.
- The GM salmon is produced (on land) at a pilot plant run by AquaBounty in Panama.
- 4.5 tonnes of GM salmon was sold in Canada in June 2017 (via Quebec) and 1.5 tonnes in February 2018 (via Ontario).
- The GM salmon is sold as fresh fillets that have a 15-day shelf life.
- In September 2018, AquaBounty’s CEO told investors that a Canadian buyer is using the GM salmon for a “high-end sashimi line” (a type of sushi).
- A June 5, 2018 MacLean’s article discovered the companies that shipped the GM salmon into Quebec: wholesalers Montreal Fish Co. and Sea Delight Canada
- Most of the GM fish was sold to foodservice companies (like restaurants and catering companies) and some to retail.
- CBAN secured statements from all the major grocery stores saying that they have no plans to sell it. These statements mostly refer to seafood counters.
If I want to avoid eating GM salmon, what salmon should I buy?
- Buy only wild salmon to avoid buying GM salmon – because GM salmon is only raised in factory farms (aquaculture).
- Buy salmon from the seafood counter at these grocery stores.
- Don’t buy salmon.
If the GM salmon is not labelled, how can I trust my grocery stores’ statement that they are not selling it at their seafood counter?
All of Canada’s major grocery chains have told CBAN that they have no plans to sell the GM salmon: Costco, Federated Co-operatives Ltd, IGA (Owned by Sobeys), Loblaw, Longo’s, Metro, Overwaitea Food Groups, Sobeys, Walmart Canada; and Metro, Sobeys, Wal-Mart and Loblaws also confirmed that they did not sell the GM salmon last year.
Grocery stores can ask their suppliers to only sell them non-GM salmon. Grocery stores and other food companies have a lot of power to source non-GM salmon and other non-GM products. They have access to the people who could buy salmon directly from the GM fish company.
Also, at the moment, Panama is the only country where the GM salmon is being produced. This makes it even easier to grocery stores and other companies to ensure they are not buying GM salmon: Companies can avoid buying salmon from Panama, and Canada actually buys very little salmon from Panama.
The current statements from grocery stores mostly apply to seafood counters: click here to see the exact statements.You can also check here to see which companies own your local store and find contact information.
Which companies say they are not selling GM salmon?
Also, the foodservice company Sodexo asks for non-GM animals only.