AquaBounty revealed on August 4, in its quarterly financial results, that it has sold approximately five tonnes of genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) Atlantic salmon fillets in Canada. This is the world’s first sale of GM fish for human consumption and has occurred without GM product labelling for Canadian consumers.
“No one except AquaBounty knows where the GM salmon are,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). “The company did not disclose where the GM salmon fillets were sold or for what purpose, and we’re shocked to discover that they’ve entered the market at this time.”
Without mandatory labeling in Canada, CBAN works to track GM foods to keep Canadians informed.
“The immediate remedy is for grocery stores to commit to keeping GM salmon out,” said Sharratt. So far, two grocery companies in Canada have published statements online responding to consumer concerns over GM salmon: IGA Quebec states that it only orders non-GM salmon, and Costco’s website states that it does not intend to sell it.
“We clearly need mandatory labelling of all GM foods,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM, a member group of CBAN.
There is no federal government tracking of GM products in the market and Members of Parliament voted down a Private Members Bill for mandatory GM food labelling in May. GM salmon is approved for human consumption in the US and Canada, but there is a import ban in the US until labelling guidelines are published.
“When it comes to GM foods, Canadian consumers are shopping blind,” said Sharratt.