In Canada, genetically modified (GM) salmon has been approved for sale.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada, the GM salmon was developed thanks to AquaBounty Technologies, an American biotechnology firm based in Massachusetts. The company has a facility in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.
The salmon developed by AquaBounty was modified by introducing a growth hormone gene from a Pacific salmon to that of an Atlantic Salmon. The result is salmon that grows twice as fast as conventionally raised salmon.
Both agencies say that the final product is just as safe and nutritious as traditional salmon. However, Canadian consumers will not see GM salmon in stores until at least 18 months from now, says Canadian health minister Jane Philpott.
Opponents of GM salmon--and all GM foods--disapprove of this move because Canadian government still has not established any sort of mandatory labeling for GM food products. There is still concern that the practice of genetic engineering could pose risks to human health and the environment. According to Health Canada, no labeling of the GM salmon is necessary because it does not pose any safety or health issues. This raises new problems for consumers who oppose GM foods because there will be no way to tell which food items are GM or conventional.
Philpott says that while salmon has set a precedent, it will not be the last GM food product to be reviewed and considered for sale and human consumption in Canada.
Last year, the farming of salmon was approved in the U.S., but has since been met with outrage and an attempt to overturn the decision.