Canada Approves Genetically-Modified Salmon

1283779.largeMichelle Schoffro Cook

While Canadians were preoccupied with Senate scandals and Rob Ford’s latest debacle, Environment Canada quietly approved genetically-modified (GM) salmon eggs and salmon for farming off the country’s coast.

Critics worry that insufficient testing has been done on the “frankenfish” that may escape fish farms and endanger wild Atlantic salmon worldwide.

The decision announced by Environment Canada on Monday leaves many people wondering whether Environment Canada—Canada’s primary governmental department charged with working to preserve and protect the natural environment—is performing its duties to Canadians.  The government agency claims in the country’s national newspaper that the salmon eggs are not harmful to the environment or human health when they are produced and grown in contained facilities.  Yet Environment Canada’s mandate does not include validating the health and safety of potential foods so it is questionable whether any testing on human health has actually occurred.

Environment Canada’s decision came on the heels of American corporation’s Aquabounty Technologies application to sell the genetically-modified salmon in the country. To develop the GM salmon, Aquabounty mixed chinook salmon eggs with an eel-type fish called “ocean pout” that reportedly makes the fish grow twice as quickly as wild salmon.

News sources indicate that Health Canada has yet to approve the GM salmon. The company also awaits approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration before the salmon eggs and salmon will be sold.

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