Frankensalmon fears prompt P.E.I. group to call for ban

Wayne Thibodeau
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Environmental, social and health advocates call on Premier Robert Ghiz to join fight against genetically engineered fish produced on the Island.

This undated handout photo provided by AquaBounty shows two same-age salmon, a genetically engineered salmon, rear, and a non-genetically modified salmon, foreground. (AP Photo/AquaBounty Technologies)

A group of environmental, social and health advocates is calling on Premier Robert Ghiz to put a stop to the genetically engineered salmon currently being produced in Prince Edward Island.

Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians, who has taken his fight over this to Washington, says the Prince Edward Island government should have a say on what is happening within its own boundaries.

“People all over the world are very concerned that Prince Edward Island will become the sole producer of the first genetically engineered (GE) animals, if in fact the United States does license it for the dinner plate,” Broderick said following his 45-minute meeting with the premier on Thursday.

“It’s a black eye for the province. We do not need this distinction or designation as the home of the Frankensalmon.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. held two days of hearings last September in Washington to see whether AquaBounty’s salmon could be marketed as safe for Americans to eat.

The FDA has already said the salmon, which grows twice as fast as conventional ones, is as safe to eat as the traditional variety.

Genetic engineering is already widely used for crops, but the U.S. government has not considered up until now allowing the consumption of modified animals.

AquaBounty, which produces the fish at a facility in eastern P.E.I., maintains its fish is safe and environmentally sustainable.

But Sharon Labchuk of Earth Action, a P.E.I.-based environmental group, doesn’t believe the fish is safe.

However, Labchuk said she was not able to convince the premier.

“One of the sticking points is that (Ghiz) doesn’t believe that GMO foods or animals are a problem,” said Labchuck.

“He has no problem with eating them himself … Now that he’s a father, I don’t think his daughter should be eating (GMO foods or animals) either.

“I don’t think anybody should be eating these foods because they have not been proven safe.”

The group had four requests for the P.E.I. premier.

It wants Environment Canada to do a better job on informing residents on what AquaBounty is doing in Prince Edward Island. It wants public consultations. It is calling for a ban on the sale of GE animals in the province and it wants the Prince Edward Island government to pass legislation declaring the Island as genetically modified or genetically engineered free.

“It’s a black eye for the province. We do not need this distinction or designation as the home of the Frankensalmon,” Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians

Ghiz said much of the debate over the GE salmon is happening outside of P.E.I.’s borders.

“As we know, they’re down in the U.S. looking to the FDA (for approval), I have no control over the FDA, they are also looking to Health Canada, I have no control over Health Canada,” Ghiz told The Guardian.

“But I committed today to ask Health Canada some questions with regards to where they are in the approval process.”

The Island premier said he would not support plans for a genetically modified free province.

Ghiz said he doesn’t know enough about the issue to form a personal opinion on whether genetically engineered food is safe.

“I trust the processes that are out there. That’s why we have Health Canada. That’s why we have the FDA.”

The U.S. government is also trying to determine whether GE fish should be labeled.

Current FDA rules only require modified foods to be labeled if they are substantially different than the conventional product, and since the agency has said the GE salmon is essentially the same as the Atlantic salmon, that may mean the modified salmon may not be labeled.

That worries Mary Boyd of the P.E.I. Health Coalition.

“There is no way of telling what the impact of all of this will be on the health of consumers,” she said.

 

wthibodeau@theguardian.pe.ca

 

Just the Facts

In the case of the genetically engineered salmon being produced in P.E.I., AquaBounty has added a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon that allows the fish to produce their growth hormone all year long.

The engineers were able to keep the hormone active by using another gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout that acts like an on switch for the hormone, according to the company. Conventional salmon only produce the growth hormone some of the time.

SOURCE: The Associated Press

 

Organizations: Food and Drug Administration, GE, Health Canada Environment Canada The Guardian P.E.I. Health Coalition The Associated Press

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, United States, Washington Prince Edward Island.Leo Broderick

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Recent comments

  • Avani Armina
    February 01, 2011 - 22:13

    Frankenfish. Splicing one gene for another o create a modified animal is simply that. Just because we over populate, consume and destroy (like a parasite) does to give humans the go ahead to start creating franken animals to eat. We can not sustain this much longer, Mother Nature wont allow us. I just shake my head at this point. Poison us with your "food" and take away our rights to grow our own without your intrusion, it's Global Domination and control all for money and power that will be of no use when the Earth finally has enough.

  • Avani Armina
    February 01, 2011 - 22:11

    Frankenfish. Splicing one gene for another to create a modified animal is simply that. Just because we over populate, consume and destroy (like a parasite) does to give humans the go ahead to start creating franken animals to eat. We can not sustain this much longer, Mother Nature wont allow us. I just shake my head at this point. Poison us with your "food" and take away our rights to grow our own without your intrusion, it's Global Domination and control all for money and power that will be of no use when the Earth finally has enough.

  • Phineas
    January 16, 2011 - 06:34

    Well said IslandAngler, Sean Murphy and others. AquaBounty is a small company that has done years of research and testing. They have passed every test the government has thrown in their way, and all that's left is fear and fearmongering. I hope this salmon gets approved. .

    • Simon
      March 28, 2011 - 02:00

      You should do your homework. The political interests passes before the scientific evidences. If there is one thing you shold learn not to trust, it is your governement!

  • Debbie
    January 15, 2011 - 09:20

    Creating GMO salmon by using a mix and match approach to their DNA is not the way to have a sustainable fish stock. If Premier Ghiz does not know enough about GMO issues to form an opinion on their safety or lack thereof, he had best get cracking on informing himself. Suggested reading: "Genetic Roulette" by Jeffrey Smith, or "Seeds of Deception" by the same author. The first book is formatted for those with short attention spans and conveys the pertinant information quickly. If reading is too hard or time consuming, one can watch "The World According to Monsanto". From GM salmon, to the Enviro-pig in Ontario to GM- corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets and more the basic issue is the same. The warning flags are up but being ignored. For Ghiz to state that he trusts the processes of the FDA and Health Canada, perhaps he should also note that several U.S. departments are under the control of former bio-tech employees and he should read "Corrupt to the Core" by Shiv Chopra, formerly of Health Canada. We cannot trust these departments with our health or our environment. As a country, we must not put our future into the hands of companies whose sole aim is to profit from unconstrained greed through their manipulation and control of government employees, elected officials and key agencies charged with the duty to protect the citizens of this country. We can make a difference in spite of the ignorance of our elected officials. Choose your food carefully and vote with your fork!

  • Spudie
    January 14, 2011 - 22:47

    I'm surprised this report has been moved so far off the Front Page and so quickly! Could it not find a place somewhere among the Rocket Game, a City Theft and PEI Music Week?

  • Betty
    January 14, 2011 - 15:31

    I think this argument is not so much about these particular fish, but about the precedent being set. Many GM products, which most of the general public are unaware of, are produced with genes from species totally unlike the crop species. This results in the production of proteins not 'normal' for the crop species. In the case of these fish, at least the injected genes are from other fish, and maybe even the proteins are the same as we find in the unadulterated species. That said, it concerns me greatly to see the introduction of GM animal products, because once approved, this will open the door for further modifications using foreign genes. There is a vast amount of concern over GM products, and most countries have been far more cautious than the US in their implementation and labelling. The only reason labelling is considered a "bad thing" is that it implies the possibility of some sort of issue with the product. It gives consumers a choice which might cut into the profits of the those creating the product. These companies have far more assets to lobby governments, to sponsor research and to promote their product that those of us among the public who have some significant fear for the world's food supply. It baffles me how this whole thing got started in the first place. It seems to be a case of doing something because it can be done. Tampering with an organism at the genetic level is a frighening thing. I do not thing anyone should be denigrated for becoming emotional about it.

  • Wild Salmon Only
    January 14, 2011 - 11:01

    If you guys really want to know what's going on with GMO food, please watch "The World According to Monsanto" and "The Future of Food." They are both free documentaries posted on Google video. Watch those two and then you can judge whether or not to allow GM plants and animals to enter our food supply.

  • Quiet Observer
    January 14, 2011 - 10:54

    Good for Mr. Ghiz! At the same time, i do agree that GM food should be labeled as such so people can make an informed choice.

  • islandangler
    January 14, 2011 - 10:50

    If you want wide spread public support for anything get the Two Leo's, Mary Boyd and Sharron Lapchuck to be opposed. What evidence do they have for their emotional outrage. In a word - NONE. Do they help sell papers or just turn the vast majority of the public off. I think the later. The Premier met with them, gave them a hearing and now let it go. The headline of this article would be more aptly titled wellknown cranks at it again!!!

    • wildsalmonluver
      January 14, 2011 - 12:58

      Wow.....with all the people getting sick with cancers etc....and almost everyone I know has some stomach issues...or is gluten intolerant etc, seems to me it's because they don't even know that the corn, potatoes, tomatoes etc is all GMO in North America.....when I get them to switch to organic foods, the problems resolve themselves.....and now this new frankenfish is verrry creeepy....I would like it to be labelled, in fact at the very least we should demand labelling.....and if you want to go ahead and eat it....then that's your crazy choice....but not for me...thank you very ffing much!

  • WTF
    January 14, 2011 - 10:41

    Well. Where is the scientific evidence to show that eating modified fish is safe? I would like to read it. I think that if the Gov is to allow something to take place here and there are questions concerning safety the Gov should offer supporting evidence to show that it is safe to put concerns at rest. If the Gov does not take this step then I for one will assume that there are some serious questions to be answered before calling something safe. When somebody in government calls someone an extremist or alarmist and says something is safe without providing proof or documents then perhaps they are being just as misleading as everybody else.

  • Spudie
    January 14, 2011 - 09:57

    Just my opinion, but I don't feel this issue is just about a "Few Articles. I also have to disagree that the term Frankenfish came from Leo Broderick and Sharon Labchuck. I've seen this term used in articles and reports in the US. (but if people who spend decades studying the effects of genetic alterations and the safety of consumption by humans, I'll take their word over Broderick and Labchucks any day.) There is much information available today from credible sources on the WWW along with reports on previous FDA sesssions on this issue. (Ghiz said much of the debate over the GE salmon is happening outside of P.E.I.’s borders.) I don't feel Canadians and Islanders are the only people with concerns about GMO Salmon. I've read reports from the US stating concerns about GMO Salmon. I''ve read many comments on our PEI CBC Website from Islanders who are concerned about GMO Salmon and GM Products. I've also read comments on our CBC Site from many Islanders who are concerened that these products do not require GM Labelling. In my opinion these products should be labeled as being Genetically Modified. I feeel as consumers we have the right to know what we are eating and the right to make an informed choice! I also feel all Canadians should have a voice on this issue. Tanning Beds were thought to be safe by Health Canada not so anymore. A report this week stated the dryers being used for acrylic nail applications have been found to cause skin cancer on fingernails! Smoking was not previously linked to cancer but it is today. Have GMO foods been tested on animals? I haven't read any reports confirming such testing. Not long ago Islanders were concerned about getting the H1N1 vaccine due to the limited number of tests that were done on humans. Eastern PEI stated: (what is the proven scientific research that explains why these fish are not fit to eat?) What is the proven scientific research that explains why these fish are fit to eat? Is there proven long term scientific research that explains why these fish are safe for human consumption? www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/pusztai.html#fullbio www.elizabethmay.ca/in-the-news/island-tides/gmo-salmon-coming-to-a-store-shelf-near-you/comment-page-1/#comment-2102

  • pingu
    January 14, 2011 - 09:34

    At a minimum the genetically modified fish should be labelled as such so that consumers really do have a choice as to whether to eat it. I believe industry is even resisting labelling requirements.

  • Marie
    January 14, 2011 - 09:16

    From a distance, PEI is a testing ground for a lot more than "Super Fish".

  • Resident
    January 14, 2011 - 09:03

    Care about health and environment? Try fighting PEI potatoes, infused with exorbitant amount of pesticides. Genetically (not chemically) modified fish is nothing compare to what we have on our plate daily...

  • Eyes Open
    January 14, 2011 - 08:54

    You won't see that crappy fish on my plate. Keep up the battle Sharon and Leo. I know it's tough to face all these sheeple but someone has to and their children will thank you. I thank you.

  • jimbo jonez
    January 14, 2011 - 08:35

    I think the use of the term "Frankensalmon" in the title of the artilcle is a poor choice and shows bias.

  • 'MagineThat
    January 14, 2011 - 08:30

    Always something, if your are so worried about unsafe foods, why not target MacDonald's, BurgerKing, and the other places like that, where all you see is fat parents with fat teenagers feeding their fat toddlers grease. And this is supposedly "safe" when the food is proven to cause obesity, high cholesterol, blood pressure issues. What's your deal? Seriously Sharon, you don't think Premier Ghiz or his children should eat it? Worry about yourself, don't like it, then don't eat it, problem solved.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    January 14, 2011 - 08:29

    I thought Ms. Labchuk was head of the PEI Green Party. Now I see she's the head of Earth Action instead/as well. I'm getting tired of these self appointed spokespeople who act like experts or as if they have a realconsituency of supporters. At the most they could be called concerned citiizens. What they really are busybodies whose goal is to draw attention to themselves. The Guardian doesn't help the situation by giving them a forum.

  • WTF
    January 14, 2011 - 08:15

    Well. Where is the scientific evidence to show that eating modified fish is safe? I would like to read it. I think that if the Gov is to allow something to take place here and there are questions concerning safety the Gov should offer supporting evidence to show that it is safe to put concerns at rest. If the Gov does not take this step then I for one will assume that there are some serious questions to be answered before calling something safe. When somebody in government calls someone an extremist or alarmist and says something is safe without providing proof or documents then perhaps they are being just as misleading as everybody else.

    • Charles Foster
      Charles Foster
      January 14, 2011 - 18:26

      I concur. The seemingly rational approach with respect to product safety, be it food, toys, medicine, etc., is for manufacturers to prove the product is safe before it goes into the marketplace. We have already since the consequences of doing it the other way around such as with thalidomide.

  • eastern pei
    January 14, 2011 - 07:47

    curious, what is the proven scientific research that explains why these fish are not fit to eat?

  • mra
    mra
    January 14, 2011 - 07:44

    just look at the tow names that are stirring this up.enough said?

  • Mark
    January 14, 2011 - 07:36

    Sharon: You state you dont' believe the salmon is safe. Please back up your argument with evidence. What aspect is not safe? What outcome will occur if consumed. What processes take place in the body's uptake of this product concern you? Show some proof, and you may sound credible. Right now you sound like an uneducated, extremist who is against it, just to be against it.

  • Sean Murphy
    January 14, 2011 - 06:58

    Leo Broderick is at it again. If he and his band of reactionaries can tell the difference between the proposed salmon and its cousin, he might have some more credibility. Even Saint Obama's government cannot discern any biological difference. It is the policy of this and previous governments to make PEI a centre for bio-technology. That will NOT happen if we ban relatively simple and safe GMO. If this gene were an innoculant against AIDs, wouldyou feel the same way? And note to the Guardian. Frankensalmon is misleading, demeaning, and unprofessional.

  • Onlooker
    January 14, 2011 - 06:56

    It's funny that Leo Broderick and Sharon Labchuck have read a few articles and began throwing around the term frankenfish and now all of a sudden they know more about health and safety than the Ph.d scientists that have studied the topic their whole lives. I understand them having concerns, obviously because the public opinion is generally fearful of "messing with nature", but if people who spend decades studying the effects of genetic alterations and the safety of consumption by humans, i'll take their word over Broderick and Labchucks any day.

  • Shawn Murphy
    January 14, 2011 - 05:22

    The old "it can't be safe because I don't understand science" routine.