Just because something is ‘more common every day' does not necessarily make it a good idea. More people smoke pot every day, not such a good idea, perhaps. More people vape every day, again, the jury is still out on negative health effects from this new every day habit.
Genetically Modified foods are one of those common everyday things and a regular part of Canadian diets. Health Canada has approved the consumption of GM foods for a multitude of years, and have deemed them “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.”All genetically modified foods previously approved by Health Canada have been crops.
The Canadian scientific reviews included an investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada into the environmental and indirect human health risks associated with AquaBounty's egg production plant in Bay Fortune, P.E.I.
That assessment, done in 2013, led Environment Canada to approve the genetically modified eggs for commercial production later that year. Those eggs are grown into adult fish at an AquaBounty facility in Panama.
Regulations say that only foods that have a health risk, “like a potential food allergy, or significant changes to the nutritional quality” must be labeled. Thus, Health Canada will not require this of the AquAdvantage Salmon sold in the grocery stores. One will not know if they are getting GMO fish or not.
Ruth Salmon, the executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, said because labelling is not required, consumers who oppose the genetically modified fish won't know what they are buying.
“It's a concern about confusing the consumer, for sure, because I think labelling allows that kind of clarity. So we'll look at other ways of trying to create that consumer information because that's important to us.”
She also doesn't buy the argument by Health Canada and AquaBounty that, with shrinking ocean resources, this type of genetic modification will be needed to help feed the world.
“We have so much going for us in Canada that we haven't even tapped. I agree feeding the world is critical, but we can do that with the fish that we're growing in Canada today,” she said.
In the United States, the FDA was instructed by lawmakers to forbid selling GMO Salmon until they put labeling guidelines in place.
According to the Washington Post, “Lawmakers instructed the Food and Drug Administration to forbid the sale of genetically engineered salmon until the agency puts in place labeling guidelines and “a program to disclose to consumers” whether a fish has been genetically altered. The language comes just a month after FDA made salmon the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption and represents a victory for advocates who have long opposed such foods from reaching Americans' dinner plates. At the very least, they say, consumers ought to know what they are buying.