AquaBounty facing environmental complaint in Panama

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U.S. company produces genetically modified salmon eggs on P.E.I.

AQUA BOUNTY

A U.S. company with a Prince Edward Island research facility is facing a complaint in Panama alleging that it is in breach of the country’s environmental regulations.

The Environmental Advocacy Center of Panama submitted a complaint to the country’s National Environmental Authority earlier this week alleging that AquaBounty’s research and development of Genetically Modified  (GM) Atlantic salmon is in breach of environmental regulations.

The company produces salmon eggs in P.E.I., which are then shipped to Panama for further research and development.

Sharon Labchuk, of the P.E.I. group “Islanders Say No to Frankenfish”, said she was surprised at the complaint.

“We always assume that because something is as controversial as this is, the proper controls are in place,” said Labchuk. “It’s also very experimental and the risks of anything going wrong are disastrous. They can wipe out the wild salmon population if these fish ever escape and their eggs end up in the wild rivers.”

The National Environmental Authority in Panama conducted an inspection of the AquaBounty operation in 2012 and allegedly found violations that remained uncorrected by the company. Those included failures to submit monitoring reports every three months and a failure to obtain permits for wastewater discharge.

Labchuk said she has contacted the P.E.I. environment department and asked for a list of provincial requirements AquaBounty must comply with.

“And to let me know if they are in compliance with everything here,” said Labchuk. “They (the department) said they would do that.”

AquaBounty has asked for approval of the GM Atlantic salmon for human consumption in the U.S.

If approved, the fish would be the first GM food animal in the world.

Lucy Sharratt, of the Canadian Biotechnoloy Action Network, said the federal government should take note of the Panama complaint and consider the impact of an environmental escape.

“All the GM fish eggs come from P.E.I. and Canada needs to take responsibility for creating an international environmental risk,” said Sharratt.

The network has sent a letter to environment minister Leona Aglukkaq asking for an explanation of how Environment Canada will assess the risks of the GM fish.

Organizations: National Environmental Authority, Environmental Advocacy Center of Panama, GM Atlantic Canadian Biotechnoloy Action Network Environment Canada

Geographic location: Panama, U.S., Prince Edward Island Canada

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Recent comments

  • Ann C. McGill
    December 05, 2013 - 10:34

    Yes people need jobs, but they also need healthy food to eat. The lying and scheming of chemical companies to "genetically" engineer our food supply is asking for disaster. Monoculture allows rampant development of disease without antibodies.

  • Frankenwhat?
    November 25, 2013 - 07:08

    Shell- do some research, it was never suggested the GMO salmon are being released into the wild.... Bill Kays- seriously....I don't think the premier of any province is going to have the capability of shutting down an entire global company. Tori?

    • Bahona
      December 05, 2013 - 09:28

      Frankenwhat?, How long have you been working for Monsanto?

  • shell
    November 24, 2013 - 19:25

    As there has been no human safety testing to date- going further into the 'field' of GMO's is problematic especially in light of current independent evidence suggesting massive problems with GE plant crops ie; effecting nutrient uptake &gut integrity, breast cancer, liver and kidney damage due to changes to biochemical pathways cause by heavy pesticide use& thus overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria etc. It would be madness to release GE animals into the sea as the consequences are unknown. Anyone can see this 'science' should be halted and be subject to normal scientific rigour ie proven safe through randomised trials BEFORE BEING RELEASED FOR CONSUMPTION. I wont be touching any salmon- this will effect the salmon market as the globe is turning away from GE technologies

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    November 24, 2013 - 17:37

    If our Premier had any guts he would shut down Aqua Bounty. Like always, we have a reactive government rather than a pro active government that believes in the cautionary model of science experimentation. Only after a catastrophic accident will we see any action on this catastrophe waiting to happen.

    • G. Wayne Hild
      March 16, 2014 - 21:09

      I am extremely sorry that Canada is following too closely the path of the US of accepting corporate graft to ignore the problems and allow the corporations to write their own special regulations. America practices unregulated capitalism because it fills political coffers. In Europe they use the precautionary principle where anything needs special approval as benign before it can be sold for public consumption. Americans and Canadians and then the world become the real losers by losing diversity that once lost is lost forever. Over rich corporations spend a lot on graft that has some terrible effects on the populations under their influence.