In a sneaky plan to get around regulatory approval, one US-based company tried to ship genetically modified salmon eggs to Prince Edward Island in Canada, which were then meant to be sent to Panama to be used in what activists are calling a ‘huge, live experiment’ which could have permanently damaged non-GM salmon. The Canadian government will have to answer for its part in the scheme in a lawsuit mounted by environmental groups.
AquaBounty Technologies, based in Massachusetts, has assured the world that its genetically modified fish pose no threat to the environment and would be kept in special disease- and antibiotic-free conditions. The company also claims that the modified fish can grow to the size of wild salmon with 75% less feed, reducing the carbon footprint, but they also fail to mention that trials of GM salmon did not go as well as the they planned.
GM salmon were created by altering their growth rates through gene splicing of Chinook salmon DNA – growth hormones. If you can recall, the ‘success’ of bovine growth hormones, also promoted as completely safe by the biotech industry, later made cow’s utters swell and become infected.
Environmentalists will present their case in Canada’s federal court on Tuesday to argue that there is a real risk of mixing between the GM salmon and wild fish. Furthermore, they attest that the Canadian government was wrong to approve the production of the eggs on Prince Edward Island.
Mark Butler, campaigner at the Ecology Action Centre, which is bringing the case alongside the Living Oceans Society, said:
“This will potentially be the world’s first genetically modified fish available for human consumption and it’s clear the GM industry wants to get other animal products approved after this. We think the measures to avoid mixing with the wild Atlantic salmon are inadequate and once there is genetic contamination the wild salmon is forever changed. It would be a huge live experiment and we wouldn’t know the consequences.”
Butler explains also that hurricanes, human error or equipment failure could release the GM fish from their land-based hatcheries into the ocean. There is no way to ensure that the GM salmon would not reproduce with the non-GM salmon, causing havoc on the environment.
It is alleged that the Canadian government broke its own environmental laws by providing AquaBounty with a far wider permit than it was assessed on, potentially opening the way for other companies to produce GM fish eggs in Canada. The lawsuit also states the government did not follow the correct procedures in its approval.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.