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