May 23, 2016
GE salmon gets Canada approval
Canada has approved the commercial sale of the world's first genetically engineered salmon and is the second country to do so, after the US.
Health Canada, after ending its review of the farmed AquAdvantage Salmon, has concluded that it is as safe and nutritious for humans as the conventional salmon. Health Canada is the government department responsible for national public health.
The animal feed division under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has also determined that feed ingredients derived from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe and nutritious as the feeds derived from other permitted salmon to be used as livestock feed in Canada.
Dr. Ronald L. Stotish, Ph.D., CEO of the US-based AquaBounty Technologies, the producer of the GE AquAdvantage Salmon, said, "We are pleased to receive the approvals of the various authorities of Canada which means we can produce, sell and eat our AquAdvantage Salmon in Canada. We thank the scientists in the Ministries of Health, Food Inspection and Fisheries of the Canadian government for carrying out their assessments diligently and confirming the safety of our salmon for both the consumer and the environment.
Earlier in November 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended its approval for the AquAdvantage Salmon, its first for a genetically engineered animal intended for food.
Last February, however, the FDA temporarily halted imports of the GE salmon, pending the publication of the final rules regarding product labelling. The FDA stated that the temporary ban was being implemented to comply with language in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The particular language directed the FDA to issue final guidance for GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling of AquAdvantage Salmon.
Health Canada said that while it requires labelling for food products, including genetically modified foods, where health risks or significant changes to the nutritional qualities of the food have been identified and can be mitigated through labelling, it doesn't require special labelling for AquAdvantage Salmon since no health and safety concerns have been identified.
AquAdvantage Salmon is an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size faster than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. It is raised in Canada and Panama in land-based, contained hatchery tanks. --Rick Alberto