A genetically modified salmon has been approved for human consumption by Canadian food regulators, making it the first genetically modified animal to be allowed for sale at grocery stores in Canada.
Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Thursday they have approved AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon after four years of testing saying the fish is as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon.
“GM foods are becoming more common every day and are part of the regular diets of Canadians,” the agency said in a statement. “GM foods that have been approved by Health Canada have been consumed in Canada for many years and are safe and nutritious.”
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AquAdvantage Salmon is developed by Massachusetts-based company AquaBounty and places a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon into the genome of Atlantic salmon, resulting in a salmon which grows faster and reaches market quicker.
The decision by Health Canada follows approval from a review from the U.S. Drug and Food Administration last year that approved the salmon for use.
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The genetically modified salmon has been met with resistance from environmentalists who say the fish poses a threat to wild salmon populations.
“GM salmon production threatens the future of wild Atlantic salmon,” said Calinda Brown of the Ecology Action Centre, in a statement. “Retailers can protect consumers and the environment by making sure this GM fish never makes it to grocery store shelves.”
AquAdvantage salmon has an approved facility in the eastern Prince Edward Island community of Bay Fortune.