Several consumer and food safety groups, including Ecology Action Centre, Ecojustice, and Living Oceans Society are challenging the Canadian government’s approval of AquaBounty‘s genetically engineered salmon. This new fish threatens native species, according to those groups. The lawsuit was filed today in Canadian court.
Karen Wristen, Executive Director of the Living Oceans Society in B.C. said in a statement, “this is the world’s first genetically modified food animal to go into production. This was done without any public debate at all and under circumstances that look like a deliberate attempt to prevent public comment. Canadians have a right to know about decisions like this in advance of them being made.”
AquaBounty is planning to grow the GE salmon eggs in Prince Edward Island, then transport them to Panama, where they will grow and be shipped back to U.S. markets. There have already been documented problems with the Panamanian facility, including missing documents and “lost” GE fish. The approval would also allow the company to grow the salmon in Canada. The salmon has not yet been approved by the U.S. FDA.
Andrew Kimbrell, executive diretor for Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, “this case is an important step in preserving native salmon populations and the environment form an unwanted, untested, novel threat. The short-sighted and unlawful approval by Canadian officials must be addressed, and we commend our colleagues in Canada for holding their government, and AquaBounty, accountable.”
“Unfortunately, it looks like the Canadian government, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is failing to acknowledge the real threat GE salmon poses to the environment,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Today’s challenge of the approval of GE salmon is an important effort to protect the public in both Canada and the United States from this unnecessary risk.”
The lawsuit is based on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The approval is unlawful, according to the groups, because it fails to assess whether genetically engineered salmon will become invasive, putting ecosystems and species such as wild salmon at risk. In addition, the government completed an assessment of whether AquAdvantage salmon is toxic without obtaining all information required by law. The suit asks the Court to invalidate the assessment and require the government to comply with the law before permitting production of the GE fish.