And so it begins…
Canadian supermarkets have become the first in the world to stock genetically modified fish, and around five tonnes of GM salmon have been sold in the country in recent months.
The sales figure was revealed in the most recent earnings report of US-based AquaBounty Technologies, whose hybrid Atlantic salmon – which contains a gene from a Chinook salmon and a gene from the ocean pout – has been at the heart of a heated debate over transgenic animals as food.
Originally developed by a group of Canadian scientists at Newfoundland’s Memorial University, the salmon can grow twice as fast as conventionally farmed Atlantic salmon, reaching adult size in some 18 months as compared to 30 months. The product also requires 75% less feed to grow to the size of wild salmon, reducing its carbon footprint by up to 25 times, the company has claimed.
In recent months, approximately five tonnes of GM salmon has been sold in Canada at a market price of US$5.30 per pound, AquaBounty said in a statement. “The sale and discussions with potential buyers clearly demonstrate that customers want our fish, and we look forward to increasing our production capacity to meet demand,” said Ronald Stotish, the company’s CEO.
As news broke that several tonnes of GM salmon had already been sold in Canada, organisations ranging from consumer rights groups to environmentalists reignited the call for mandatory labelling of GM foods in Canada. “The first genetically modified animals have arrived in the market and Canadian consumers are becoming, unwittingly, the first guinea pigs,” said Thibault Rehn of the group Vigilance OGM.
“The company did not disclose where the GM salmon fillets were sold or for what purpose, and we’re shocked to discover that they’ve entered the market at this time,” said Lucy Sharratt of Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
Two supermarket chains – IGA Quebec and Costco – have announced they will not stock GM salmon. Others however welcomed the news, describing it as a breakthrough for a growing industry.
What do you think? Would you buy a genetically modified salmon if you knew it were one?
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Original story first posted on Guardian UK