P.E.I. ’Frankenfish’ moves closer to FDA approval for human consumption

The Canadian Press
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AquaBounty says at 18 months the transgenic fish is clearly much larger than the same-age normal fish.

Genetically engineered salmon created here in Prince Edward Island are getting closer to becoming the first transgenic animal to be approved for human consumption after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the fish have no significant environmental impact.

The FDA published its draft environmental assessment last month — one of the final steps in what has been a 17-year regulatory process.

The AquAdvantage salmon developed at Memorial University and the University of Toronto consists of an Atlantic salmon egg that includes genes from Chinook salmon and an eel-like fish called the ocean pout.

AquaBounty Technologies is the Massachussetts-based company that produces the GM salmon eggs at a farm in Prince Edward Island and rears the fish at a fish farm in Panama.

The company says the modification means the salmon grow twice as fast as conventional fish.

Critics fear the so-called Frankenfish could escape their inland fish farms and affect wild populations, and they tried unsuccessfully to have Congress derail the FDA process.

The U.S. FDA has already found the AquAdvantage salmon are safe to eat.


For more on this story, pick up a copy of the print-edition of The Guardian this weekend.


Organizations: U.S. FDA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, University of Toronto

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Panama

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Recent comments

  • LetsFight
    February 18, 2013 - 09:08

    Is this Ghiz gov't going to develop ANY vision of PEI at all?! Are we going to keep visiting these putrid projects just because they provide jobs?! From fracking, to oil/gas development in the Gulf, to Frankenfish ... cripes ... can't we get a vision of PEI going that is better than that! It's horendous to think that this is going on in our backyard and that too many Islander don't care.

  • yuk
    January 07, 2013 - 10:13

    Look at the photo - the GMO fish looks bloated and is most likely tasteless, so it's probably not going to be a very popular "product" in the end - just avoid processed fish products from now on!!!! That's where these horrible things are going to end up being used - in salmon fishcakes, etc. I don't suppose they've done much palatability testing because you're not allowed to eat scientific experiments!!!

  • Gerry
    January 07, 2013 - 08:30

    Regardless of how salmon is grown, how many households can actually afford to purchase it? Either way, the consumption will continue to be minimal.

  • Hmmmmm
    January 06, 2013 - 17:44

    Should we be surprised???

  • Mell
    January 06, 2013 - 11:56

    Salmon on steroids!! Do you really want to eat this!! Is this another Monsanto genetic modification? Should not be allowed period!

  • SG
    January 06, 2013 - 11:07

    Just Thinking: (The headline on this story is outrageous, it is a fish, why do reporters try to be so dramatic?) It's a Genetically Engineered Salmon! (the first transgenic animal to be approved for human consumption by the U.S. FDA not Canada! Why is it being Genetically Engineered on PEI by this Company when the U.S. wouldn't allow this company the same privilidge? Also our Government hasn't approved this GMO Salmon be Labeled as such! As Canadians we have the RIGHT to know what we are eating, where it comes from, how it is produced and what it contains. If you want to eat GMO Salmon that is your choice but how will find a GMO Salmon in our supermarkets when it's not labeled as such!

  • Just Ignore The Three Eyes
    January 06, 2013 - 09:25

    Frankenfish describes it nicely...... "approved for human consumption after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the fish have no significant environmental impact" ..... what exactly do they mean by "no significant impact"?.......This has the appearance of going beyond tinkering with Mother Nature and consumers will be the guinea pigs........ I wonder if this article is related ....... http://www.inforensyan.com/2012/12/26/gmo-salmon-designed-to-be-sterile-to-grow-abnormally-to-be-impaired-to-swim-risks-to-your-health-and-environment/

  • GMO'd to extinction
    January 06, 2013 - 08:47

    One has to wonder what is safe to eat anymore. Who wonders why the upsurge in deseases that were once considered rare. Case in point might be the cross polination of wheat. I don't know how many of you wuld remember when wheat fields stood as tall as a man. That man has genetically modified wheat to make it sturdier so to better withstand natures whims. Today's wheatfields barely attain leg length but they stand up to wind and rain much better. So now we have more wheat to produce our breads and pastries. At the same time the rise in cases of siliacs desease has reached an alarming level. Ex:- Notice how many locations are now featuring glutin free products. If they are now going to genetically modify salmon along with everything else that they have already done so (heard the lobster was on the list to do) what will be safe to eat?

    • Don't be GMO'd
      January 07, 2013 - 10:06

      If you are lucky enough to hav a access to a patch of land (even 500 sq ft) then why not grow your own fruit & veggies from heritage seed varieties? It's a start to control the quality of what you're eating.

  • mary
    January 06, 2013 - 08:30

    A lot of our foods are genetically being made as we speak. The consumer needs to take a stand, or their will be no end to this. We are dealing with enough cancer side effects from our mass produced foods as it is.

  • Golden Rule?
    January 06, 2013 - 07:29

    I wonder if the Golden Rule only applies to our species, or should it apply to all life?

    • What is the Golden Rule
      January 06, 2013 - 15:18

      That you would expect that for animals, when we do not have it for ourselves, is kind of surprising. We need that rule more than ever, but you have only to look to our Government to know that the ones in POWER, do not believe in that golden rule, or perhaps they do not even know it exists. Perhaps we could have a lesson from an expert who remembers it? One preferrably not in the pay of the tax payer. just a thought...but the poor animals...you are right...but just because it is, does not mean it has to be that way. Enlightenment is subjective to our experiences. Obviously some people on this Island are lacking some experience that is leading them to not even consider those experiences for others and account for their well being when making decisions concerning our wonderful little Island. Robert, you do not know what it is like to be poor. So, you need to realize that you need to talk to the poor then, to realize what you are missing. And you are not inclined to do so. It will be your downfall. Walk a mile in someone elses shoes, from the wrong side of the tracks for a bit....please.

  • Robot Gizz
    January 06, 2013 - 06:58

    This is bad .very bad.The info is out there folks.Go read up on it yourself.Do you really think that if it was as safe as they say that these eggs would not be being grown in the states?(and the profits kept there?)I see a perfect storm of enviro damage coming to our waters.If the "man made" fish themselves don't kill us,the oil soaked ones from the future EXXON platform leak off Newfoundland will do us in!

  • brian
    January 06, 2013 - 06:18

    we have seed modified for better growing and climate results we have dogs and and other animal species change whats the big deal.this company a small company in eastern pei has jumped through all the hoops for Fda in last 5 yrs .they emply people yr round .wake up people this is a good news story for a change .the fish are 100% inclosed in a building inside tanks not a fish farm onthe open waters.the climate is changing food production taking a beating ,population rising,wake up this is a great story.

  • Piet Hein
    January 05, 2013 - 22:33

    Jimmy, I really don't want to sound too frustrated over your lack of understanding and knowledge, but please try to understand. The FDA has the say over the safety on this issue because the company is an American company. If it was a Canadian company it would still have a say if the fish were to be sold and eaten in the U.S. Just as Canada would with an American company. Another example is when a jetliner that was made by an American company crashes almost anywhere in the world the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board has the mandate to go to that country and investigate the crash. That wasn't too hard now, was it?

      January 06, 2013 - 09:20

      Sieg Heil....Please try to understand,the FDA has said it is safe to grow in CANADIAN waters because it will not affect USA waters.The FDA does not allow it to be grown in their own country but are okay with it being spawned in PEI and raised in Panama.These fish will have no significant enviromental impact in USA waters because they will never swim in these waters,pretty cute trick there.That wasn't too hard now ,was it?

  • huh
    January 05, 2013 - 22:09

    If the US FDA have "found" that the fish are safe to eat, does that mean they're as safe as transfats, DDT, Dieldrin, Aldrin, BPA, etc used to be? My family will most definitely not be consuming this crap - in fact, we'll mosr probably avoid all salmon from now on just to be sure. A lot of consumers will likely do the same - the salmon farming industry may well shoot itself in the foot over this. People are starting to turn away from factory farmed foods - time the food producers woke up and smelled the coffee.

  • jimmy buffet
    January 05, 2013 - 20:04

    Why is the US FDA telling Canadians what is safe in Canadian waters?We have become a third world joke as a country,letting foreigners of any flag rape our resources for a nickel or a wink and a nod and a promise .Do you think a Canadian could tell China or USA what is acceptable practice in their country?

    • GO
      January 06, 2013 - 06:53

      Never better said, agree with you 100%

    • Yankee Lurker
      January 06, 2013 - 10:37

      Jimmy, Welcome to the world of Conservative governments. This is the world in which profit and chummy relationships with big business takes precedence over the health and well being of an industry, the people that work in it and the people that consume the product that come from it. I have been castigated for sticking my nose in Canada's business, but it is very difficult to watch the political waters up there begin to look as polluted as they are down here. The fist rot from the head down, even big fat genetically produced ones. Secondarily, fish from farms are essentially poisoned from the start. Their flesh is heavily laden with heavy metals from the water in their ponds.

  • SG
    January 05, 2013 - 20:04

    Report Dec. 28, 2012 re: CBC Website – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/12/28/pei-aquabounty-genetically-engineered-salmon-584.html The Following two Statements in parenthesis seem to contradict each other. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says genetically modified salmon eggs from P.E.I. are unlikely to harm the environment, opening the door for a scientifically engineered salmon that grows twice as fast as normal.) From the same Report: (In the 150-page report, the FDA notes egg production on P.E.I. reduces environmental risk in the United States. The report clears the way for the first approval of a scientifically engineered animal for human consumption.) Given the U.S. FDA states egg production on P.E.I. reduces environmental risk in the U.S. is the FDA not stating there IS an environmental risk? Hence why does the U.S. FDA state GMO eggs are unlikely to harm the environment? Aqua Bounty said it plans to ship eggs from the Island to Panama, where fish would be raised to their full size and then processed. In it’s report the U.S. FDA said the facilities in P.E.I. and Panama are secure. The leader of the P.E.I. Green Party says he isn't convinced. I have to wonder, given that the U.S.A. FDA stated that the salmon eggs are unlikely to harm the environment why the U.S. hasn't opened their doors for the production of the GMO Salmon eggs?

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 06, 2013 - 11:00

      SG I agree with your statements. It just goes to show that our government that permits this must be either stupid, uninformed, greedy, ignorant, bought off by lobbyists or all of the above. Why must man play God anyway? It seems that Adam is still biting the apple from the knowledge tree. It seems that Adam still desires to know God's mind. Is there not enough bio diversity already? This is all about corporate greed and anyone who says differently does not really understand the issue. We should vote in the NDP here and then force them to have a review of all the bioengineering projects being conducted in the province and hold them to a higher ethical standard than is the norm. We need mandatory food labeling of all our foods, foods stuffs, etc stating place of origin, GMO content, ingredients, etc. so that the consumer can make a wise and informed choice.

    January 05, 2013 - 19:18

    These fish are being grown here because it is illegal to do so in the USA.They will not have an impact in the USA as long as all the dirty work is done on PEI.Who cares if Atlantic Salmon might be wiped out ...I DO!!!...so should YOU! I am very uncomfortable accepting advice from the USA when they won't allow this testing in their own waters.

  • Not On My Plate
    January 05, 2013 - 18:33

    This is a real shame because I will have to eliminate salmon from my diet it they don't clearly label this fake fish. No way I'm eating it.

  • just thinking
    January 05, 2013 - 18:32

    The headline on this story is outrageous, it is a fish, why do reporters try to be so dramatic?