GM Fish Company Cited for Environmental Failures

B. McPherson
Remember the old adage You Are What You Eat

The AquaBounty Fish Company, manufacturer of the genetically modified salmon made up of three species of fish has been accused of shirking its environmental responsibilities.

The fish eggs for the supersalmon are prepared in Canada, in the Province of Prince Edward Island. They are then shipped to Panama for hatching and raising the young salmon to market size. The fish have the appearance of Atlantic salmon, but carry genes from the Chinook salmon(a different species) as well as genes from an Ocean Pout. Both of the latter species have genes that promote rapid growth.

The Canadian government has recently given the go-ahead for the PEI labs to start commercial production of the GM salmon eggs.

The Environmental Advocacy Center in Panama has submitted a complaint about AquaBounty to the Panamanian National Environmental Authority alleging that the biotech company has failed to submit required reports and they also have failed to obtain appropriate waste water discharge permits. This comes as a surprise to those in PEI who have been opposing the commercial manufacture of GM fish.
Sharon Labchuk, of the P.E.I. group “Islanders Say No to Frankenfish”, said she was surprised at the complaint.
“We always assume that because something is as controversial as this is, the proper controls are in place,” said Labchuk. “It’s also very experimental and the risks of anything going wrong are disastrous. They can wipe out the wild salmon population if these fish ever escape and their eggs end up in the wild rivers.” The Guardian
While the GM fish are supposed to be raised inland in self-contained sometimes circumstances thwart the best of plans. N. America is battling the Chinese carp which has escaped from containment during a flood and is now poised to invade the Great Lakes. On the Pacific Coast, Atlantic salmon raised in nets in the ocean have escaped into the wild. Despite being assured that the Atlantic salmon could not breed in the Pacific waters, they have been found making their way upstream during breeding season.
Aside from the danger posed by escaping GM fish, the “salmon farm” is unsustainable. Unlike vegetarian fish, salmon are voracious carnivores. In order to feed the fish and to maintain good growth rates, tonnes of “trash fish” must be harvested to make the high protein fish food. Overharvesting of non-commercial fish upsets the natural balances in the ocean.

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