Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Montreal: Investigations by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Ecology Action Centre and the Quebec network Vigilance OGM reveal that the world’s first sale of genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) salmon could have gone exclusively into the Quebec market.
“Quebeckers could have unknowingly eaten the GM salmon anywhere in restaurants, or through food service at hospitals or universities, or in processed food products sold in stores,” said Thibault Rehn of Vigilance OGM.
Government statistics on Canadian imports show a shipment of salmon from Panama to Quebec that closely matches the amount of GM Atlantic salmon that the company AquaBounty says it sold in Canada, in the timeframe the company says it made the sale.(1) The company is currently only producing GM salmon in Panama. Canada imported more salmon from Panama this year than in previous years.
In the company’s August 4th financial report, GM fish company AquaBounty revealed it had sold approximately 4.5 metric tonnes of GM salmon into Canada sometime between April and June 30 2017. This was the world’s first sale of a genetically modified food animal and Canada is currently the only market where this GM product can be sold.
AquaBounty did not disclose where it sold the GM salmon or into what type of food market. However, most major retailers say that they are not selling the GM fish as fresh fillets at their seafood counters: Quebec stores Metro, IGA (owned by Sobeys) and Provigo (owned by Loblaw) say they do not sell GM salmon, and major retail chains across Canada – Costco, Federated Co-operatives Limited, Loblaw, Longo’s, Overwaitea Food Groups, and Walmart – say they are not selling it and have no plans to sell it.(2)
“We need transparency and clear GM food labelling so Canadians can make an informed choice,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. There is no mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods in Canada.
Environmental groups are concerned that GM Atlantic salmon production could result in escapes that would threaten wild Atlantic salmon.
For more information: Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514 582 1674; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103; Mark Butler, Ecology Action Centre, 902 266 5401
- CBAN’s summary of the import data and links to data sets are posted at cban.ca/fishimportstats
- A list of statements is available at cban.ca/retailerstatements
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) brings together 16 organizations to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform.
The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) is an environmental charity based in Nova Scotia taking leadership on critical environmental issues from biodiversity protection to climate change to environmental justice. EAC is grounded in community, and a strong voice and watchdog for our environment. The centre works to catalyze change though policy advocacy, community development and building awareness. EAC takes a holistic approach to the environment and our economy to create a just and sustainable society.
Vigilance OGM is a Quebec network of groups and individuals concerned about everyday food choices and the impact of farming practices on human health and the environment. The network is particularly focused on information and actions for a future without genetically modified organisms (GMOs).