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Is “Enviropig™” Safe?
Is Enviropig™ Safe to Eat?
Enviropig™, like all GM foods in Canada, will be assessed for human safety by Health Canada and classified as a “novel food”. Health Canada, however, has not yet developed specific guidelines for evaluating the safety of GM animals for human consumption. Instead, Canada will rely on the United Nations Codex guidelines for the safety assessment of GM animals and refer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[xii] Health Canada does not conduct any of its own safety tests of GM foods but relies on data submitted directly from the product developer, in this case the University of Guelph. This data is classified as “Confidential Business Information” and is not accessible to the public or to independent scientists. There is no mandatory labeling of GM food in Canada or the U.S.
Is Enviropig™ a Biosafety Hazard?
There is already a precedent for contamination of the food system with Enviropig™. In 2002, eleven piglets at the University of Guelph that had died at or shortly after birth were accidentally sent to a rendering plant and turned into animal feed instead of being destroyed as biological waste. The GM pigs were not approved for animal feed but contaminated 675 tonnes of poultry feed that was sold to egg farmers, turkey farmers and broiler chicken producers. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency ordered a recall of the feed. The then Vice President of Research at the University of Guelph, told the Globe and Mail that, “Things you don’t expect to happen can happen.”[xiii]