Genetically-modified fish could cause ‘consumer confusion’
Published Saturday, May 21, 2016 5:06PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 21, 2016 6:38PM PDT
Salmon, the ocean’s natural superfood, is about to come in a very unnatural variety now that Health Canada has given the green light to an American company that wants to sell genetically-modified fish to Canadians.
Taking DNA from a chinook salmon and a sea eel, and merging it with an Atlantic salmon, AquaBounty Technologies Inc. is able to produce a farmed fish that grows much faster.
“Given that no health and safety concerns were identified, there are no special labelling requirements,” said Health Canada in its decision.
The thought of Canadians potentially eating genetically-modified salmon without knowing it doesn’t sit well with Vancouver-Kingsway MP Don Davies, the NDP’s health critic.
"I know that there's health concerns about this fish,” said Davies. “A lot of Canadians are very conscious, and increasingly so, about what they're ingesting."
The BC Salmon Farmers Association takes issue as well, particularly with the lack of a labelling requirement.
"We think there's certainly going to be consumer confusion if there's a transgenic fish that's not labelled next to a fish grown in a natural way in an ocean environment and we think it's important that people understand what they're buying,” said Jeremy Dunn, the association’s executive director.
At Vancouver’s Fisherman’s Wharf, dozens of people lined up on Saturday waiting for boats to come in so they could buy seafood right off the dock.
With access to fresh caught wild seafood, many said they didn’t see a demand for the genetically-modified salmon here.
"I would avoid it like the plague,” said local resident Sherry as she waited in line to buy local spot prawns.
AquaBounty says it still hasn’t decided if it will voluntarily label the GMO-fish -- so wild seafood might be the only option for consumers who want to be sure of what they’re getting.
"That's true. Getting it right off the boat, it's still flipping around in the bag,” said local resident Mike as he waited for the fishing boats to come in.
The genetically-modified salmon could be on store shelves in a little over a year.