Friday, March 4, 2011

Canadian wild salmon at risk from GE fish

Genetically engineered fish could pose threat to wild stocks: DFO scientists
Postmedia News: There's a risk Canadian fish stocks could be harmed if the world's first genetically engineered salmon is approved for commercialization, federal scientists suggest... Experts from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are concerned about 'limited' and possibly 'constrained' regulatory powers around the approvals for GE fish. The analysis, from senior scientists specializing in biotechnology and aquaculture, comes as a company called AquaBounty Technologies works to bring GE salmon to the dinner plate...

The company cleared an important hurdle in August, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's preliminary analysis concluded that the salmon, engineered in Atlantic Canada to grow twice as fast as normal fish, are safe to eat and not expected to have a significant impact on the environment... The company plans to produce the eggs in Prince Edward Island... where the Massachusetts-based company currently grows sterile female GE salmon for research purposes...

During early consultations a year ago involving... the Department of Fisheries, Environment Canada and Health Canada, fisheries officials voiced concerns... according to the minutes, redacted in many placed and released under access-to-information legislation.

Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network [said] 'The documents confirm the fish cannot be contained, infertility cannot be 100 per cent achieved, and when fish escape, there's a risk it will come back to affect our fish stocks... Michael Hansen, a scientist at the New York-based Consumers Union, said... 'The assessment that the FDA did was scientifically completely inadequate.'
Image: A transgenic (top) and a non-transgenic salmon at the AquaBounty hatchery in Bay Fortune, PEI. Source here.