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Monday, November 22, 2010, Charlottetown – Today in a letter PEI groups asked Premier Ghiz to insist that Environment Canada disclose that they have begun an environmental assessment of production of genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon eggs on the Island.

The company AquaBounty has asked the United States Food and Drug Administration to approve its GE Atlantic salmon for human consumption in US. A final decision could be made as early as tomorrow. AquaBounty plans to produce all of its GE salmon eggs at its facility at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island. It will then ship the eggs to Panama for growing out and processing to then sell into the US. There is a global controversy about the health and environmental impact of GE salmon as well as the inadequacy of the scientific evidence presented by AquaBounty to the FDA.

“Both AquaBounty and Environment Canada refuse to tell the public if an environmental assessment for GE fish eggs has even begun.” said Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians. Broderick called Environment Canada who refused to answer if they are currently looking at an application from AquaBounty, saying this information was confidential. “Environment Canada must immediately tell PEI residents if they have already begun their 120 day process to approve GE salmon egg production here. Its outrageous that the public has no input at all and cannot know when or if the process has started. Premier Ghiz must intervene in the interest of protecting PEI’s environment and reputation”, adds Broderick.

“Its ridiculous that Environment Canada refuses to even tell the public if it conducting an environmental assessment. Why is this top secret? And why is there no public input? And why is the province excluded in the process,” asked Sharon Labchuk of Earth Action PEI.

Environment Canada will assess the environmental risks of commercial scale GE salmon egg production in a completely secret process. The department must reach its decision in 120 days of receiving a request. Environment Canada will regulate GE fish or fish eggs under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans abandoned development of regulations for Transgenic Aquatic Organisms.

“We hope the premier will play a positive and proactive role in providing transparency for Islanders,” said Mary Boyd of the PEI Health Coalition.

The group is asking the Premier:
1. To insist Environment Canada notify the Government of PEI when it begins an environmental assessment for GE salmon egg production, that the province be consulted on environmental risk questions and be notified immediately if approval is granted;
2. To hold public consultations on whether or not AquaBounty should be permitted to produce GE salmon eggs on PEI;
3. To call on the Canadian government to ban the sale of any GE animal, and
4. To introduce legislation declaring PEI a GMO-free province.

For more information: Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians, 902-894-4874; Sharon Labchuk, Earth Action, 902-621-0719, cell 902 940 1262; Mary Boyd, PEI Health Coalition, 902-892-9074

To view the letter to the Premier click here.

For more background on GE salmon click here.