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There are no genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) food animals on the market anywhere in the world yet. However, a GM Atlantic salmon was approved in both Canada and the US and could be produced in the next few years.
The House of Commons Agriculture Committee conducted a study on “Genetically modified animals for human consumption” in late 2016. The Committee report made four recommendations:
- that the government provide greater transparency in the regulatory system that evaluates genetically modified animals intended for human consumption.
- that the government provide support for independent research into the health, environmental and other effects of new genetic modification technologies (including those to produce genetically modified animals).
- that the government support the mandatory labelling system only for issues of food health and safety.
- that the government work with industry to establish tools to provide traceability for genetically modified animals.
On October 4, 2016, CBAN testified at the House of Commons Agriculture Committee hearings on GM animals. All of the testimony can be read or listened to here.
Here is a summary of CBAN’s main recommendations to the Committee:
- There needs to be an assessment of economic impact before any GM product is approved for release
- There is a need to strengthen environmental risk assessment including a need to assess the long-term, system-wide risks of each GM product and the use of this technology as a whole
- Canada need systems for tracking and tracing all GM organisms
- Canadians need transparency in regulation
- Canadian consumers need mandatory labelling of all GM foods in the grocery store
We need to step back and ask:
- Is genetically engineering animals ethical?
- Is it acceptable to Canadians?
- Is it necessary?
There needs to be a moratorium on the introduction of GM animals until Canadians have a chance to be heard, and until changes are made to increase the government’s ability to regulate GM organisms and foods, including tracking and traceability, and transparency including mandatory GM food labelling.
Canada has two decades of experience with GM crops and foods that has not yet been evaluated. We need to step back so that we can also evaluate the impacts of GM crops. We need to do this and then learn and apply any lessons from the release of GM crops and foods before we consider allowing GM animals into our environment and food system.
Canada has approved the first genetically modified food animal in the world: a GM Atlantic salmon from the company AquaBounty. It is approved for eating and for growing (on land) in Canada and it is also approved for eating in the US. However, it is not yet in production anywhere in the world. The company claims that the salmon grows faster – it is genetically engineered with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout (an eel-like creature).
In 2012, the genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) pig called “Enviropig” has been shut down thanks to CBAN and your action. Thanks to your support and actions we have stopped the GM Pig!