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Motion in the House of Commons requests transparency

Thursday, March 3, 2011. Ottawa – Today in the House of Commons, New Democratic Party Fisheries and Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly tabled a motion asking for transparency and more study before genetically modified (GM) Atlantic salmon are approved for human consumption.

US company AquaBounty has genetically modified a faster growing Atlantic salmon by inserting a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout.

AquaBounty has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to approve the GM Atlantic salmon for human consumption but the status of any requests for approvals from the company to the Canadian government are unknown because our federal departments refuse to disclose this information.

“Why won’t the government tell us if they are doing a risk assessment?” asked Leo Broderick of PEI and Vice-Chair of the Council of Canadians, “AquaBounty wants to supply the market with genetically modified salmon eggs from PEI but Canadians have no clue if the company has asked for approval here.”

AquaBounty is not planning to produce GM salmon in the US but is instead proposing to produce all the GM salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island and then ship the eggs for grow out and processing in Panama, for selling into the US consumer market.

Today’s motion asks the government to explain its regulations and to set up a system to notify Canadians about any requests for approval and approval decisions. The motion also asks the government to “prevent the introduction of genetically modified salmon destined for human consumption into the Canadian food system until further scientific studies are concluded by the relevant departments to determine the impact of genetically modified salmon on human health and on the health of marine species, ecosystems and habitats.”

“We call on all Members of Parliament to support the motion. It is a request for basic transparency,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “This cloak of secrecy is unjustifiable and, frankly, ridiculous.”

“DFO’s own scientists have acknowledged that genetically modified salmon pose a real risk to our wild fish stocks,” said Catherine Stewart of Living Oceans Society in B.C. “Any debate on this issue, any scientific research informing the debate, must be made available to all concerned citizens.”

Sixty fisheries and oceans conservation, environmental and social justice groups released a joint statement in December 6, 2010, opposing GM fish.

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Cell 613 263 9511; Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians, 902 894 4874; Catherine Stewart, Living Oceans Society: 604-916-6722;