April 26, 2017 – The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Ecology Action Centre, and GMO Free PEI have become aware of an application to the Prince Edward Island government from the biotechnology company AquaBounty that reveals the company’s intention to raise genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) Atlantic salmon in PEI. If approved, this would be the world’s first GM fish factory.
AquaBounty owns an aquaculture facility in Rollo Bay, PEI that it purchased in 2016. The company’s 2016 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) clearly stated that it would not produce GM fish at the site, however their current amended EIS seeks permission to construct new large capacity buildings in order to produce 250 metric tons of GM Atlantic salmon each year. (1)
“We don’t want our island to be the global production site for the world’s first-ever GM fish,” said Sharon Labchuk of the coalition GMO Free PEI, “Less than one year ago AquaBounty reassured Islanders it would not grow GM fish here but now the company has revealed its true intentions.”
Last night Islanders attended an information session as part of the province’s environmental assessment process. There is now a 10-day comment period.
“PEI is a flip of a fish’s tail away from some of the best Atlantic salmon rivers in the world,” said Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre based in Halifax. “Commercial production dramatically increases the risk to wild Atlantic salmon but the impacts of a possible GM fish escape have not been federally assessed. Federal ministers McKenna and LeBlanc should put this project on hold until government scientists evaluate the full risks of GM salmon production.”
In 2013, the federal government approved GM fish and egg production but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Scientific Response only examined the question of egg production. (2)
AquaBounty has been producing GM salmon eggs in PEI at a separate facility for shipping to Panama where it awaits approval from the Government of Panama for commercial GM fish grow-out. Now the company is shifting strategies and proposing to grow the GM salmon in PEI.
“The potential production of this GM fish is a huge global concern,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
For more information: Sharon Labchuk, GMO Free P.E.I., 902 626 7327 ; Mark Butler, Ecology Action Centre, 902 266 5401; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103.
(1) Links to the 2017 and 2016 Environmental Impact Statements are available on the website of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network at www.cban.ca/fish
(2) Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Science Response 2013/023 http://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/361091.pdf