The sale of genetically modified salmon has been approved by Canadian health authorities, making it the first genetically altered animal to be allowed for consumption in the country.
As Health Canada does not believe there are any health and safety risks, there will be no special labeling requirements for the new product.
However, Canadian activist groups are concerned about the decision and are calling for mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods produced in the country.
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The AquAdvantage salmon cultivated by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies is described as being as healthy as traditional Atlantic salmon for food and livestock feed use, according to a statement.
“GM foods that have been approved by Health Canada have been consumed in Canada for many years, and are safe and nutritious,” the agency said, adding that GM foods were part of the regular diet of Canadians.
All genetically altered foods previously approved by Health Canada have been crops.
The genetically changed salmon is usually ready for sale in 16-18 months, while conventional fish need up to three years to come to the market.
The salmon will appear on supermarket shelves in 18 months, according to Health Minister Jane Philpott. “While this is the first product of this nature to be reviewed, it will not likely be the last,” said the minister as cited by Reuters.
Neat. A genetically engineered salmon has been approved for consumption by ppl/livestock feed by Health Canada/CFIA. pic.twitter.com/bp6XVr0aAr
— Sonia Aslam (@SoniaSAslam) May 19, 2016
As Health Canada sees no health and safety risks, there will be no special labeling requirements for the new product.
AquaBounty Technologies has a production facility in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. “We are pleased to receive the approvals of the various authorities of Canada which means we can produce, sell and eat our AquAdvantage Salmon in Canada,” said company CEO Ronald Stotish.