Canada has given the go-ahead to commercial production of genetically modified salmon eggs, bringing the world’s first GM food animal closer to supermarkets and dinner tables.
The Canadian government approved biotech company AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon for commercial production. Environment Canada, the government body in charge of environmental protection, says that it has granted the company’s petition to export of 100,000 GM salmon eggs per year from a hatchery in Canada to a hatchery in Panama, where the GM fish is grown.
“This is a significant milestone in our efforts to make AquAdvantage salmon available for commercial production,” Ron Stotish, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. The government stressed that there would be no immediate sale or consumption of GM salmon eggs in Canada.
The US Food and Drug Administration has yet to make a decision regarding the GM salmon, which contains a gene from Chinook salmon that makes it grow faster than wild salmon. Environmental groups worry that the GM salmon could escape enclosures and cause “disastrous” harm to wild populations, but Environment Canada says that there are “strict measures in place to prevent the release” of the fish into the wild. Though the approval for commercial production represents a large regulatory hurdle overcome by AquaBounty, the Canadian government stressed that this is not an approval for human consumption.
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