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Unlabelled genetically modified salmon discovered sold into Quebec

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By Milthon Lujan

Montreal, Canada.- Investigations by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Ecology Action Centre and the Quebec network Vigilance OGM reveal that the world’s first sale of genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) salmon could have gone exclusively into the Quebec market.

“Quebeckers could have unknowingly eaten the GM salmon anywhere in restaurants, or through food service at hospitals or universities, or in processed food products sold in stores,” said Thibault Rehn of Vigilance OGM.

Government statistics on Canadian imports show a shipment of salmon from Panama to Quebec that closely matches the amount of GM Atlantic salmon that the company AquaBounty says it sold in Canada, in the timeframe the company says it made the sale.(1) The company is currently only producing GM salmon in Panama. Canada imported more salmon from Panama this year than in previous years.

In the company’s August 4th financial report, GM fish company AquaBounty revealed it had sold approximately 4.5 metric tonnes of GM salmon into Canada sometime between April and June 30 2017. This was the world’s first sale of a genetically modified food animal and Canada is currently the only market where this GM product can be sold.

AquaBounty did not disclose where it sold the GM salmon or into what type of food market. However, most major retailers say that they are not selling the GM fish as fresh fillets at their seafood counters: Quebec stores Metro, IGA (owned by Sobeys) and Provigo (owned by Loblaw) say they do not sell GM salmon, and major retail chains across Canada – Costco, Federated Co-operatives Limited, Loblaw, Longo’s, Overwaitea Food Groups, and Walmart – say they are not selling it and have no plans to sell it.

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“We need transparency and clear GM food labelling so Canadians can make an informed choice,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. There is no mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods in Canada.

Environmental groups are concerned that GM Atlantic salmon production could result in escapes that would threaten wild Atlantic salmon.

CBAN’s summary of the import data and links to data sets are posted at https://cban.ca/wp-content/uploads/GM-Fish-Imports-from-Panama_media-background-and-summary_Oct-2017.pdf 

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