Toronto, Canada (CBC/NBCNC) – The world’s first genetically modified salmon is being offered for sale in Canada.
Massachusetts-based Aqua Bounty Technologies said it’s sold about five tons of fresh salmon fillets to Canadian customers.
But it isn’t saying exactly where you can buy the fish.
These fish can reportedly grow twice as fast as conventionally-farmed Atlantic salmon, reaching adult size in some 18 months as compared to 30 months.
At a popular fish market in Toronto’s downtown, the catch of the day is being prepared for customers.
Already on display, some fat fresh organic salmon fillets.
Hard to tell though, if the world’s first genetically modified salmon is among the fare, especially since there’s no requirement for labeling.
That’s a cause for concern for shopper Leslie Jennings. “I’m very careful about the purchases. I make. Also I’m a mom. I like to shop local and like to buy organic if I can, but I’m big into non-GMO.
As long as it tastes good says, Justin Nodwell. “I’m not really opposed to genetically modified foods. Mostly they seem to be harmless.”
It’s a cross-breeding feat that takes the gene from a Chinook salmon and another one from an eel-like creature called ocean pout, then that’s injected into the egg of an Atlantic salmon.
The fish can grow twice as fast as farmed fish and feeding them is cheaper.
Still, environmentalists are worried about the safety of the product and have long demanded labeling on all genetically modified products.
“We don’t see the kind of rigorous safety regulations that most Canadian’s may expect,” said Lucy Sharratt with the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
Also a concern, that the new breed can contaminate the wild stock.
In his lab, the scientist who helped develop the new salmon says the fish is safe, there’s no cause for concern.
“These fish are sterile they cannot reproduce so when you say interacting you mean if they get into the wild they are going to be grown as far as I know in land based operations where it is really impossible to escape,” said Garth Fletcher with Memorial University.
Health Canada approved the sale of the genetically modified fish last year, and has rejected calls for labeling.
A representative going as far to say, she would gladly eat a GM fish.
“I would have every confidence in the regulatory system that we have,” said Denise MacGillivray. “I really do believe that this food is safe as other farmed salmon on the market.
Canadians are the first in the world to taste this new genetically modified fish.
But at least 2 major retailers say they won’t be selling the product.