AquAdvantage, genetically modified salmon

August 2015 - Community & Environment

Let’s have fish for dinner conversation not happening in our homes:

“Hey hon, let’s have AquAdvantage salmon for dinner tonight. You know, the genetically modified Atlantic Salmon that grows twice as fast as conventional fish (translation: real food) and is created from a Chinook Salmon and the genetic material of an eel-like species. According to this video at spawning time fish are gently massaged to extrude the eggs and sperm (but watch the video at about 1:05, more like squeezed by men with gloves so the reproductive cells drop into a Styrofoam container). Yum!”

Gross.

Intrexon (as found at dna.com – no really, they registered that domain name) is the Maryland-based company behind AquaBounty and the genetically modified salmon. It plays in the multi-billion dollar synthetic biology markets. Intrexon recently purchased Okanagan Specialty Fruits the company behind the GM non-browning Arctic Apple, and Trans Ova Genetics its big money maker which is involved in bovine reproductive technologies. Move over Monsanto?

With concerns of GM salmon wiping out wild populations, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), says while Canada’s Minister of the Environment approved the commercial production of genetically modified (GM) Atlantic salmon eggs in November 2013, the GM fish is not yet approved for human consumption.

Considering Health Canada approved the sale of the GM Arctic Apple this past spring against the vote of nearly 70% of Canadians, and BigAg recently had a win with weak standards being introduced for GM foods via the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Actof 2015, things might be looking up for Frankenfish.

Unfortunately here in the land of the free we do not have policies in place that make labeling GMO foods mandatory, despite the fact that some developed nations have already banned them. Today, the Non-GMO Project and shopping organic (for everything except salmon, read about the controversy here) is as close as we come to protecting our food supply.

If seafood is on your menu, you might want to check out The David Suzuki Foundation’s Seachoice website, which aims to help consumers make informed decisions about their purchases. The rules and regulations of raising of farmed fish through aquaculture have subtle nuances and implications just as beef and chicken do on land. Best, as usual, to know your farmer to know your food.

In the between time, keep writing to the Minister of the Environment, Hon. Leona Aglukkaq to express your concerns about GM salmon. Moreover, be sure to check out Friends of the Earth’s comprehensive GE-free Seafood campaign that has secured the pledge not to sell GM salmon from major grocers like Safeway and Krogers in the United States.

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