Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency approve AquAdvantage Salmon
AquAdvantage Genetically Modified Salmon Found to be Safe as a Food and a Livestock Feed
May 19, 2016 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada
Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have completed thorough and rigorous scientific reviews of AquAdvantage Salmon (a genetically modified [GM] salmon) for food and livestock feed use and determined that it is as safe and nutritious for humans and livestock as conventional salmon. These were the final Government of Canada scientific assessments required to allow AquAdvantage Salmon to be sold in Canada.
The AquAdvantage Salmon is a GM salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies Inc. to promote rapid growth during early life. This was achieved by introducing a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon to an Atlantic salmon.
GM foods are becoming more common every day and are part of the regular diets of Canadians. GM foods that have been approved by Health Canada have been consumed in Canada for many years, and are safe and nutritious. Changes to the genes of plants and animals can improve food quality and production – for instance by reducing the need for pesticides, making crops resistant to drought, preventing bruising, or allowing foods to be grown more quickly.
The AquAdvantage Salmon has undergone separate safety and nutrition assessments by Health Canada for use as food and by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for use as livestock feed. These reviews both found the salmon to be as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon. The assessments complement a regulatory environmental and indirect human health risk assessment for AquAdvantage Salmon that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) had asked Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to conduct in 2013. Later that year, informed by DFO’s risk assessment, ECCC indicated that the company could proceed with its plans to produce sterile GM salmon eggs for sale, in land-based commercial grow out facilities in Canada. Canada is not the first country to approve this product for use as food and livestock feed. In November 2015, the AquAdvantage Salmon was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration following the Agency’s scientific safety review.
Health Canada requires labelling for food products, including genetically modified foods, where clear, scientifically established health risks or significant changes to the nutritional qualities of the food have been identified and can be mitigated through labelling. For example, an allergen present in a food must be labelled to alert consumers. In this case, given that no health and safety concerns were identified, there are no special labelling requirements for AquAdvantage Salmon.
The Government of Canada uses a stringent evidence-based process for evaluating the safety of genetically modified animals for food and livestock feed use. Summaries of the Health Canada, CFIA and ECCC scientific assessments for AquAdvantage Salmon are available on their respective websites.
Office of the Minister of Health
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