AquAdvantage Salmon is the first genetically modified food animal to be approved for sale in Canada. This decision comes after extensive testing by Canadian government agencies.
AquaBounty Techonologies is the biotechnology company behind this new GM salmon. A press release from the company said that Canada is the second country to find AquAdvantage Salmon safe to eat. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the fish for sale in November 2015. Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have come to the same conclusion after carrying out their own assessments. Their tests found that the salmon are safe for both consumers and the environment.
CBC reports that the AquAdvantage salmon grow twice as fast as conventionally farmed Atlantic salmon due to genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout (an eel-like fish). The salmon eggs from AquaBounty’s production plant in PEI were approved for commercial production in 2013. Those eggs are grown into adult fish in a facility in Panama.
A Health Canada release says that GM foods are becoming a common part of the regular diets of Canadians and have been consumed for many years. It asserts that they are safe and nutritious. This is in line with a recent report declaring GM foods safe. In the AquAdvantage, the GM salmon were found to be just as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon.
While the debate on GMO labelling rages on, Health Canada states that it requires labelling only for food products “where clear, scientifically established health risks or significant changes to the nutritional qualities of the food have been identified and can be mitigated through labelling.” Since the AquAdvantage Salmon poses no health and safety concerns, “there are no special labelling requirements” for it.
Despite approval from government bodies, the salmon may still face opposition. When the FDA approved the fish last year, Canadian Grover conducted a survey asking readers if they would consider selling genetically modified fish in their stores. Fifty-seven per cent responded with “No way. It’s unnatural.”