Canada Approves GM Fish Eggs, Environmental Threat


Heather Callaghan

Two Canadian groups are speaking out against the introduction of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon: Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and Islanders Say No to Frankenfish. Could the approval of GM fish eggs be the first major stepping stone in pushing GM salmon into the public arena without full approval?

Canada Approves GM Fish Eggs, Environmental Threat

They find Canada’s approval of commercial production of genetically modified Atlantic salmon eggs is an alarming decision that sets up Canada to be the source of global environmental risk.

The Environment Canada approval, published on November 23 in the Canada Gazette, is the first government approval for the company AquaBounty. The company has asked for approval of the GM Atlantic salmon for human consumption in the United States, based on a plan to produce the GM fish eggs in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada and ship them to Panama for grow-out and processing.

The PEI facility already produces GM salmon eggs for research, which are shipped to the company’s Panama location for further research and development. If fully approved for production and consumption, the GM salmon would be the first GM food animal in the world.

Just last week, on November 21, an environmental group in Panama filed a complaint alleging that AquaBounty’s research and development of the GM fish, using eggs sent from PEI, was not in compliance with national and international environmental regulations.

Leo Broderick of the PEI group called Islanders Say No to Frankenfish said:

We’re devastated that Prince Edward Island is now officially the home of the Frankenfish. We don’t want our Island to be the source of this dangerous living pollution.

Lucy Sharratt, head of CBAN said:

We are extremely disappointed and alarmed that our government has approved the production of GM fish eggs. GM salmon egg production in Canada endangers the future of wild Atlantic salmon around the world.

It’s simply crazy that the world’s first GM fish eggs are now going to be coming from Canada.

Its unacceptable that this incredibly important decision was made in total secrecy and without any public consultation.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network has repeatedly asked Environment Canada, the Minister of the Environment, and AquaBounty to say if an assessment for approval of the GM fish eggs was underway. All parties refused to answer this question for public disclosure.

“This isn’t the international image we want for our beautiful Island,” said Broderick.

For more information on the timeline and background of AquaBounty’s GM salmon, check out


The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) is a campaign coalition of 17 groups including farmer associations, environmental groups, regional coalitions of grassroots groups, and international development organizations, all of which have various concerns about genetic engineering in food and farming.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at

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One Response

  1. Angel Warrior says:

    More info on this…

    Canada will allow genetically modified salmon eggs to be produced and exported — but no way in hell will the eggs be allowed to hatch on Canadian soil.

    The GM salmon was developed by AquaBounty, which blended genetic material from Chinook salmon and from another type of fish called ocean pout into the DNA of Atlantic salmon. That helps accelerate growth rates. The eggs will be produced at a hatchery on Canada’s Prince Edward Island and exported to be hatched at a site in Panama. There, the fish will be fattened up before being exported to the U.S. for sale.

    Worries abound that the genetically modified fish will escape and spread their altered genes to wild populations of salmon and trout. And those concerns are weighing on the minds of Canadian officials. From The Guardian:

    The decision marked the first time any government had given the go-ahead to commercial scale production involving a GM food animal.

    The move clears the way for AquaBounty to scale up production of the salmon at its sites in PEI and Panama in anticipation of eventual approval by American authorities. …

    The Canadian government said in its decision that the GM fish presented a high risk to Atlantic salmon, in the event of an escape, and a spokesman was adamant there would be no immediate sale or consumption of GM salmon eggs in Canada.

    “There are strict measures in place to prevent the release of this fish into the food chain,” an Environment Canada spokesman said by email. “In Canada, no genetically modified fish or eggs are currently approved for the purposes of human consumption.”

    But the limited approval still represents a big win for AquaBounty, which has fought for 20 years to bring GM salmon to American dinner tables.

    Many consumers have doubts about genetically modified meat, and leading American grocers have already announced that they will not sell it. Also, each fish will have traversed the continent, traveling from Canada to Panama and back up again to the U.S. before arriving at a plate — and that’s unlikely to prove particularly popular with any GM-friendly locavores, either.

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