'Franken-salmon' sparks P.E.I. protest

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Noreen Payne of Fortune Bridge voices her concerns about genetically engineered salmon at a press conference Thursday.

BAY FORTUNE - The wind whipped off Bay Fortune on Thursday, unfurling a flag reading "Stop the Experiment" before blowing across the road to the AquaBounty research facility. Beside the flag sat five Islanders who had convened to protest the genetically engineered salmon eggs being produced at the facility.

The salmon, named AquAdvantage, are Atlantic salmon that are bred with genes from a Chinook salmon and an eelpout. The alteration causes the fish to grow at an accelerated rate, reaching market size twice as fast as regular farmed salmon. The salmon have already been approved for human consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This weekend they will begin hearing the concerns of public groups before delivering a final verdict on the fish.

Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians will be making the trip to Washington for the hearings on Sept. 19 and 20 to voice the concerns of Island groups such as Earth Action, the P.E.I. Health Coalition and the Council of Canadians.

"The mutant fish will escape, as sure as the sun sets every day," Sharon Labchuk of Earth Action P.E.I. said.

"Every day millions of fish escape from pens in the ocean... Just 60 mutant fish in a wild population of 60,000 will render that species extinct."

AquaBounty claims that they will only sell AquAdvantage salmon eggs to FDA approved fish farms that are land-based rather than cage-farmed. All of the fish will be sterile females, with a margin of error between one and five per cent.

If approved, AquAdvantage salmon would be the first transgenic animal to be declared fit for public consumption. According to Mary Boyd of the P.E.I. Health Coalition this would "open the floodgates to some 35 species of GE animals to be placed on the market."

"This is the very first time that GE fish has been analyzed," Boyd continued, "and we wonder what kind of testing did they do? Who did the testing? There are far too many unknowns," she finished, citing studies done by the New England Journal of Medicine that claim the effects of genetically engineered foods on allergies are "uncertain, unpredictable, and untestable."

Noreen Payne, a Fortune resident, read about the press conference in her morning Guardian. She arrived in front of the AquaBounty facility with a homemade Bristol board sign, attached to a thicker piece of cardboard to secure against the wind and rain.

"P.E.I. Home of the Franken Salmon" the sign read. She's watched the impact of genetically modified plants such as round-up ready canola, and she's worried that there's not enough known about the long-term effects of these new technologies.

"I drive past the building everyday and I think, 'You shouldn't be here... You shouldn't be anywhere'" she told The Guardian.

AquaBounty could not be reached for comment.


Ariel Sharratt works in The Guardian's Kings County Bureau



Organizations: FDA, United States Food and Drug Administration, GE P.E.I. Health Coalition New England Journal Bristol board The Guardian Kings County Bureau

Geographic location: Bay Fortune, Washington, Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Stephen Pate
    November 21, 2015 - 10:46

    The protesters are expressing their democratic right but not basing their decision on science or fact, just fear. If the FDA spent almost a decade studying this, what evidence does the Council of Canadians know? The real question is: how will we feed the world without killing off all the fish stocks?

  • Stephen Pate
    November 21, 2015 - 10:45

    The protesters are expressing their democratic right but not basing their decision on science or fact, just fear. If the FDA spent almost a decade studying this, what evidence does the Council of Canadians know? The real question is: how will we feed the world without killing off all the fish stocks?

  • Margaret Gallant
    January 14, 2011 - 16:14

    This is bad for us, bad for PEI, and bad for our souls. I will not stand for our lords work being played with. I was born into gods grace in the town of Tignish away such from such evils, and by harboring these defilers of nature ; we will be thusly judged. To all those who are faithful to the lord and themselves, do not let the lies of the damned sway you from your correct ideals. This is wrong, remember that.

  • frankenstein
    September 17, 2010 - 14:31

    dear sharon: more than 90% of the corn grown world wide is GMO. Refute that

  • Robert
    September 17, 2010 - 12:10

    Wake up everyone. They are now deadening your brains with all kinds of poison in store bought, food. Cans , plastic bottles poison, READ THE LABELS SHOW ME THE REAL FOOD IN IT. Why don't they leave natural food alone the way good created it. Why do you think there is so much cancer now and increasing every day. Monsanto is killing the food chain. The CEO that worked for Monsanto is now head of the FDA. They go in and say Hey brother check this box so we can put it through. WAKE ALL OF YOU BEFORE IT IS TO LATE.

  • not again
    September 17, 2010 - 10:51

    Leo and Sharon, why don't you two move . You are against everyone and everything on this planet. Maybe you alien buddies will come back or did they wany to get rid of you.

  • Trevor John
    September 17, 2010 - 09:06

    This is a sad reflection for the contempt and suspicion people have always held for for "intellectuals." Unfortunately, the media gives more prominence to the complaints of laypersons than to explaining the science involved. It is embarassing to see people without the specialised education or experience in the field of research or genetics, are nevertheless confident (arrogant?) enough to challenge the conclusions of a panel of science specialists and peer reviewers who have dedicated their fulltime careers to this specific area of study. I have to wonder if they readily accept criticism by laymen about how they run their own businesses or do their jobs? It is often said everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not every opinion is as informed as another.

  • SteveM
    September 17, 2010 - 09:04

    Wheat is genetically engineered. This is now, as it has always been, fear mongering by the uninformed.

    • Sharon Labchuk
      September 17, 2010 - 12:58

      STEVEM: genetically engineered wheat is not approved to be grown or sold in any country on the planet. Monsanto tried but in 2004 the world rejected it.

  • Al
    September 17, 2010 - 08:18

    Google FDA and learn about all their short comings and screw ups over the last 10 years. They are NOT qualified to say that this genetically modified fish is safe for anybody to consume! And this publicity will help Canada's "Green Province" how??? This is not exactly the kind of publicity the Island should be aiming for.

  • Ray
    September 17, 2010 - 07:17

    These foods should be labeled. People should have the right to know what they are eating. If you would like to help pressure our elected officials to make labeling of GM foods mandatory please consider joining the Food Bloc page on votingbloc.org here: http://www.votingbloc.org/Food_Bloc.php

  • Sean Murphy
    September 17, 2010 - 07:13

    Leo Broderick and Sharon Labchuk. What a surprise. Remember folks, it's saviour Obama's FDA that is approving this.