Biotechnology company AquaBounty Canada Inc. creates its “AquAdvantage” salmon by taking genetic material from Chinook salmon and the eel-like ocean pout and inserting it into Atlantic salmon eggs. According to AquaBounty, the genetically modified salmon grows to market size faster than conventional salmon.
Ecojustice lawyers represented Living Oceans Society and the Ecology Action Centre in a lawsuit challenging the Federal Government’s decision to approve Aquabounty’s application to grow the genetically modified salmon eggs in P.E.I. and then transport them to Panama, where they will grow to full size. (Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society v. Minister of the Environment, Minister of Health and Aquabounty Canada Inc.)
The Federal Court ruled to uphold the federal government’s approval of AquaBounty’s application in late 2015. Our clients appealed the decision.
In October 2016, the Federal Court of Appeal decided to uphold approval.
Atlantic salmon populations around the world, including many populations in Canada, are endangered. Our clients assert that the effects of an escape of GM fish into the wild, including potential interbreeding with wild salmon, could be irreversible. We are arguing that because the toxicity assessment on which the Federal Ministers of the Environment and Health based their decision did not assess whether genetically modified salmon could become invasive in the event of an escape, and thus did not accord with the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the decision was unlawful.