Question Period, 12 April 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

AquaBounty salmon containment measures

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.

The approval granted last year by the United Stated Food and Drug Administration for the AquaBounty salmon has recently been challenged in a US court.

One of the arguments cited in that challenge is that the PEI facility presents, and I quote, a “… substantial environmental risk…”

A question to the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment: Can the minister explain what measures are in place to ensure that no fish or eggs can escape from this facility?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Communities, Land and Environment.

The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I had the privilege of touring through the AquaBounty facility. It’s a land-based facility. The work going on there is separated completely from the water there in Fortune. It’s done under extreme – I mean, you can almost say you get sworn in to go in there. It’s well looked after, it’s well regarded, very secure.

One of the biggest concerns that they look at and make sure there is not concern for is the fact there may be an escape of eggs from that facility. From what I could see and from what our department has looked at and seen, it is living up to those standards.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The Leader of the Third Party, first supplementary.

Emergency plans re: accidents at AquaBounty facilities

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Indeed, it is a land-based facility, but it’s 150 feet from the ocean.

The introduction of GM salmon into the wild could irreversibly harm or destroy wild salmon populations that are already in decline. However, neither Environment Canada nor the US FDA assessed the consequences of fire or natural disasters such as hurricanes, which are happening increasingly commonly here on Prince Edward Island. They didn’t assess for that at the PEI site.

AquaBounty has recently applied to expand their capacity here on Prince Edward Island, creating new possible points of entry for GM fish and eggs into the wild.

Could the minister describe what emergency plans are in place in both the existing and the proposed facilities to respond to these types of accidents?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I can take back some of that detail for you for sure, but I know from looking at and speaking with the people there and my staff as well, the facility looks locked up tight with regards to that.

We’re very concerned about the fact there may be an escape from that facility, but from what we could see and what we hear from all the examinations that were done there, that’s not something that we need to worry greatly about.

But as far as the things such as a fire or whatever we can look into that and I’ll take that information back to you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, second supplementary.

AquaBounty controversy and Canada’s Food Island

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, minister, and thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Aqua Bounty Salmon is highly controversial, with many US retailers such as Safeway, Target, Trader Joe’s, many other retail chains already refusing to carry it. These GMO facilities here in PEI make us not just the birthplace of Canada, but quite literally the birthplace of GMO animals in the world.

Has the government considered what effect this controversy might have on the Canada’s Food Island strategy?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

The facility there produces the eggs. Then they are shipped off to Panama where they’re grown again in inland tanks. It’s approved from there to go in through the USDA, US Food and Drug Association, to come in to America. They now have a little bit of a blockage while they work on some other items. From all I have heard so far there’s no request to actually have them here in Canada. It’s just to grow them here, start them here, move them to Panama, grow them there, and move them into places such like the USA as soon as they get approval for all of that.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.


One Comment

  1. Bill Kays 15 April 2016 at 1:55 pm

    The questions were better this time, but the answers were severely lacking. I am not sure iuf everyone knows, but some of the GMO salmon did escape the Panama facilities, and they were locked up too. It seems very peculiar that the eggs are allowed to be produced here, but then they send the fish to Panama. If I wanted to release these fish into the wild, I could not pick a better place than Panama, with it’s connection to both oceans. The Americans may buy up the lousy tasting predatory salmon, but I don’t think Canadians will. We want to know where our food comes from and what if anything is in it.


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