GMO zebrafish escape into the Brazilian wild—will GM salmon do the same?
Published: March 29, 2022
Category: GMO News
In the “first documented case of a genetically engineered animal that has escaped containment and reproduced in the wild,” glowing zebrafish from Brazilian fish farms are reproducing in creeks in the South American Atlantic Forest.
Mark Butler, senior adviser with Nature Canada, wonders if the same will happen to the genetically modified salmon being grown in P.E.I. The AquAdvantage salmon developed by AquaBounty was approved for sale by Health Canada. Butler said that although AquaBounty can officially sell the fish in Canada, it’s not actually on store shelves—each province has a requirement for slaughtering and selling the fish.
Along with Vigilance OGM, Butler is offering a $500 reward for tips on where the GM salmon is being sold. The salmon won’t be labeled GMO, because Canada only requires mandatory labeling of GM foods when health risks are relevant, such as presence of allergens or significant nutritional change in the product.
The zebrafish, native to Southeast Asia, were engineered to glow for research applications; unfortunately, they reproduce faster than non-GMO zebrafish and voraciously consume native insects and zooplankton. Researchers fear their growing numbers could impact local species.
“Once that fish is out there, we just simply don’t know how it’s going to interact with other fish or the environment,” Butler said. “It’s living genetic pollution.”
Butler fears the GM salmon could escape and reproduce with wild salmon. “Once that happens, you cannot put the genie back in the bottle.”
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights April 2022