OTTAWA – Environmental groups are disappointed in a Federal Court ruling that upholds the federal government’s approval of an application to manufacture genetically-modified salmon eggs in P.E.I.
The ruling, posted Dec. 23, came in response to a legal challenge brought by Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society. The groups, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, argued that the federal government’s approval was granted without adequate public notice, and purported to allow the organisms to be used and grown-out at other, un-assessed, locations throughout the country.
Although the groups are disappointed with the decision, they are happy that the ruling will restrict AquaBounty’s manufacture of genetically-modified salmon eggs to its P.E.I. facility, and does not grant the company approval to manufacture at other un-assessed facilities across the Canada – one of the groups’ initial concerns when bringing this case forward. However they remain concerned about the implications of the decision, and the lack of clarity regarding the ways in which the organism can and cannot be used across the country.
While Justice Russel W. Zinn’s ruling did uphold the government’s approval, his judgement also confirmed that the government cannot continue its previous practice of waiting years to publish notice when it waives information requirements because it frustrates the goal of transparency – the government did not post public notice of its waiver of information requirements for genetically-modified salmon eggs until months after this case was launched. In the future the groups want to ensure that concerned citizens do not need to bring a legal claim in order to ensure the government posts waivers in a reasonable time.
Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society are currently reviewing the decision to determine if further action will be taken.