GM Fish: From Seeds to Salmon?

Photo by Maureen "Mo" Reilly |

I’ve written several times on my beef with genetically modified foods, voicing my concern over the rampant and unchecked release and proliferation of the growth and consumption of GM soy, canola, wheat, potatoes, etc. Recent developments within the biotechnology industry have threatened to expand the prevalence of GM technologies into meat products, with the EnviroPig and GM Salmon. My next post will focus on the dangers and details of the Enviro Pig project, based out of the University of Guelph, but this post will reveal what’s so fishy about AquaBounty’s GM fast growth salmon.

AquaBounty, a biotechnology company based out of Massachusetts, has petitioned the US government to approve its line of GM Atlantic salmon for human consumption, whilst also seeking Canadian regulatory approval. AquaBounty claims that this GM Salmon grows to market size twice as fast as conventional farmed salmon, due to the insertion of the growth hormone from Chinook Salmon and the ocean pout eel.

AquaBounty plans to produce the eggs of the GM Salmon in Prince Edward Island, and then ship these eggs, via boat, to Panama to be grown in an isolated fish farming facility. As a result, the entire success of the AquaBounty GM Salmon project rests on Environment Canada’s approval or rejection of the company’s petition to be able to produce the GM eggs in PEI. This gives us, environmentally concerned Canadian voters, an opportunity to stop this potentially environmentally disastrous project before its onset.

The impacts of the consumption bovine growth hormone took years to unveil, and there is no absolute promise that the injection of foreign growth hormones into these salmon will not generate similar negative effects. Moreover, this development could potentially devastate the already fragile Canadian fisheries market, as many foreign countries, notably those in the European Union, may refuse to purchase any Canadian salmon whatsoever, out of fear of potential contamination. 

Additionally, the potential escape of GM salmon from fish farming facilities could further endanger the already unstable population of wild salmon. For example, mature, escaped Atlantic salmon have been recorded in freshwater streams in British Columbia, and there is evidence of successful spawning in a few locations (Greenpeace report). Imagine if these salmon were GM salmon? The risk to the integrity of existing salmon populations is undeniable.

If you want to maintain the integrity of Canadian Atlantic Salmon and refuse to support any further effort to recklessly distort out food system, please follow this link and write our Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Keith Ashfield, and demand the rejection of Aqua Bounty’s GM Salmon!