Alaska brings salmon protest to P.E.I.

Dave Stewart
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Alaskan representative asks Prince Edward Island premier to write letter against allowing GMO salmon eggs to be produced in the province

Geran Terr, a member of the Alaska government, was in Charlottetown April 18 to ask for Premier Robert Ghiz's support in lobbying the United States Food and Drug Administration to reject an application to produce genetically modified salmon eggs in Bay Fortune, P.E.I.

A member of the Alaskan government flew all the way to P.E.I. to ask Premier Robert Ghiz to speak out against genetically-modified salmon.

Geran Tarr met with Ghiz Thursday morning, asking him to write a letter to the United States Food and Drug Administration which is considering allowing genetically modified Atlantic salmon eggs into the country.

The FDA is accepting written submissions until April 26.

The hook with P.E.I. is that AquaBounty, a small U.S. company, plans to produce the salmon eggs in Bay Fortune, P.E.I., and then ship them to Panama in Central America for growth before distributing the product through the U.S. food market.

"This would be the first time that a genetically-modified organism would be approved for human consumption so we have a lot of concerns about that,'' Tarr said following her meeting with Ghiz.

Tarr launched a resolution recently in the Alaska legislature calling on the food and drug administration to require more research before approval or, at the very least, mandate that AquaBounty label the products that have been genetically modified. That motion was passed unanimously in the house of representatives and the senate.

Tarr said her government is concerned about the risk to human health, the threat to Alaska's lucrative wild salmon stocks  it's a $500 million fishery and provides 70,000 jobs annually  and that it would undermine consumer confidence in wild salmon.

"When farm salmon came on the market it dramatically reduced the price of our wild salmon so we expect something similar will happen.''

Tarr says the FDA is only considering the application as a veterinary drug, not one that's for human consumption.

"We're hoping we can encourage legislative leadership (on P.E.I.) as well as asking the premier to speak out in opposition . . . asking (the P.E.I. government) to slow things down, switch gears and look into the human health concerns.''

Ghiz didn't commit to writing a letter to the USFDA but did promise to have his officials do some research into the matter.

"I kept an open mind (in the meeting with Tarr) but I believe in evidence-based research, that we need to listen to the scientists about (which direction) we're moving,'' Ghiz said, adding that he agrees with Tarr that the food and drug administration should be considering the human effect.

Sharon Labchuk, a member of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, said the P.E.I. government has the ability to pass legislation banning the production of genetically-modified fish eggs on P.E.I.

"We see that P.E.I. has nothing to gain from being known around the world as the maker of frankenfish,'' Labchuk said. "We are simply pawns in this big game.''

Ghiz said there's little government can do if the food and drug administration gives the green light to the process.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: USFDA, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

Geographic location: P.E.I., Prince Edward Island, Alaska U.S. Atlantic Bay Fortune Panama Central America

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Recent comments

  • guychiasson
    April 22, 2013 - 07:26

    And who funded these studies you are referring to? I would like to see the references to these studies. Third party verified and reviewed studies are the only ones that have any credibility. Please show me the litterature.

  • Confused
    April 21, 2013 - 11:03

    Confused here, as in you the uninformed public are.. The "Frankenfish" as so eloquently, put is a name that has stuck, by fear mongering people and groups such as these that Sharon and "Leapin Leo" belong to. People, take the time to do your own research and you will see, as I have, that these fish through lengthily environmental, and human impact assessments (over 13 years worth of research and data), have proven to the FDA( who are the leaders in passing new food and drug products worldwide), have shown that these animals are safe for human consumption. Look at the science behind it, not the loud mouths who ill inform YOU the public. We have over 7 billion people on this planet, the only way to feed them all is through new innovative breakthroughs in molecular science. Aqua Bounty are trailblazers and therefore as "HUH?" puts it, a sacrifice to the people who do not understand the way of the future (by using a religion example, once again very classy). The wild population stocks are being decimated, reduced, polluted and destroyed at a rapid rate. How long can we continue to eat more than can be naturally produced. Aqua Bounty are the first to administer this technology (which was first discovered at Memorial University in Newfoundland), therefore are the whipping boy, sacrificial lamb or whatever other analogy you want to use in moving the human endeavor forward. It is a real shame that people who are ill or not informed at all have an opinion on such a crucial decision when they do not understand at all... Do your homework before formulating an opinion, because if you do not, you will lose all credibility, ok Leo and Sharon?

  • alfreed
    April 20, 2013 - 14:30

    appears somebody would cut off their nose to spite their face in their hate for thoughtful co-habitants ---- so go ahead eat poison if you wish and love our shallow Premier.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    April 19, 2013 - 16:08

    Thank God for concerned activists such as Broderick and Labchuk that will take the time to review the details of these issues. Why without these folks we would be eating GMO french fries and other GMO crops. These folks take both the time and have the courage required to take on the man / government. These fish have the potential to change the entire planet as we know it. Although I am a conservative (not progressive) I welcome change if the said change is proven through peer review. Environment Canada is the one regulating this potential disaster. It is bad enough that we do not know what we are eating. If they had mandatory labelling on all food products then the consumer could make an informed decision as to which foods they eat or give to their families. On one side of the equation you have a few jobs and on the other side of the equation you have possible global disaster. Whatever happened to the precautionary principle? All the real jobs will be in Panama not here. They put the lab here because we have no real protesters or inquisitive media. Yes the genie is out of the bottle. And yes, AquaBounty could move elsewhere and they should. Ghiz should take the initiative and ban all genetically modified foods and genetic engineered organisms.

  • Rural Islander
    April 19, 2013 - 14:23

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the fish Aquabounty will be marketing commercially are sterile, unable to mate, so they won't pose a threat to wild stocks. Seems like a great opportunity for employment in the area. In addition, salmon has an incredible amount of proven health benefits. Maybe we should be protesting truly gross food modifications such as the way the industry has been steadily adding sugar, oil, and salt to increase consumption and decrease costs.

    • Concerned
      April 19, 2013 - 16:17

      Not all the franken fish are sterile and it would only take one to escape and breed which would destroy wild stocks. Auqaubounty admits this. The health benefits are no where near wild salmon just like any farmed salmon plus they are fed antibiotics and GMO's. It would also be a gateway to approval for all sorts of GE meats. It's a bad idea driven by lobbying and greed. Then there is the safety issue. It's completely untested for human safety and the government doesn't seem to care. How is any of this good?

  • islandwoman
    April 19, 2013 - 13:50

    "Ghiz didn't commit to writing a letter to the USFDA but did promise to have his officials do some research into the matter." Please, please tell me that PEI "officials" have already done some research into this matter or explain why Ghiz needed someone from Alaska to tell him what's going on in Bay Fortune, PEI.

    • You can count on our Premier
      April 20, 2013 - 16:23

      Rest assured that our premier Ghiz has researched this issues as well as the HST, Plan B, the Holman Hotel, PNP, and all the companies that were employing Islanders before they fled our shores. We can count on him to do the right thing. Now, if only he lean a little left and do the Liberal thing . . . but the likelihood of that happening is less than nil.

  • don
    April 19, 2013 - 13:30

    Well Agriont when we no longer have fish to eat tell me with all your  wisdom what can we eat? And as far as braodrick you want to shut the plant down so we lose jobs i can see why no one voted for you. we have so many foods out there that has GARBAGE added to it like fake sugar,fake cream,and so many others. Shame on you for wanting all these islanders to lose there jobs just so you can get on TV you are no better then the Government .and all this lady is doing is to keep her job and the MONEY. Tarr so all you are here for is to kill many jobs on this small island. You do not care about anyone but the money shame on you. And i am sure many islanders both on PEI and off with do the same i hope and stop buying any fish from your state. And to think you are asking our government to close out a plant and put more islanders out of work well that he will do as he has done it many times before. do we live in CANADA or USA i guess the plant will close as money talks.

  • Same Old Faces
    April 19, 2013 - 13:10

    Broderick and Labchuk involved - this woman just lost any chance she had at being taken seriously.

    • fresh new face
      April 19, 2013 - 19:03

      If I could ever be half the woman Sharon is, I would be ten thousand times the human being you are.

    • Huh?
      April 20, 2013 - 14:21

      SAME OLD FACES? Don't know why having the same face across all issues should diminish the message. After all, the last time I went to church the man they had nailed to a cross looked pretty much looked the same as the last time I saw him. And His message was the same too.