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Panamanian Salmon approved by the FDA

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Gordon Bakke    44

No, the GMO fishfarm is in the Boquete area. There is a trout farm just up the hill from Volcan, in Bambito, but I think they just farm rainbow trout.

Frankly, I'm surprised that this decision was finally made after so many years of back-and-forth between Aquabounty and the FDA - it just seemed to be one of those decisions that was put off for political reasons. It'll be interesting to see if these fish make it into local markets.

I think it unlikely that any of these fish have yet been sold commercially in Panama. "AquaBounty estimates it will take several years before its fish hits the market, because the company needs to develop facilities to produce the salmon and begin raising them." Further, I think that beyond the approval to raise these fish in Panama, they would also need approval here for domestic consumption.


Edited by Gordon Bakke

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JudyS    178
6 hours ago, Querencia said:

I think I ate some of this salmon a few months ago bought in the Rio Hato area. Very good and very cheap. I know I know it's gmo. For those against gmo don't worry it will probably be replaced by CRISPR in the next few years.


Have you grown any extra limbs or started playing the piano when you couldn't before?

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Querencia    5
1 hour ago, JudyS said:

Have you grown any extra limbs or started playing the piano when you couldn't before?

I wish I could play the piano. I'll try eating some more.

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Keith Woolford    308

Panama's GMO Salmon (Frankenfish ?) are back in the news today in Canada.


CFIA fast-tracked tests on genetically modified salmon eggs for exports, documents suggest

Documents show health inspectors scrambled to meet deadline for time-sensitive salmon egg test

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency fast-tracked safety tests on eggs from genetically modified salmon in order to hit an export deadline last year, according to internal government documents.

Documents obtained under Access to Information by researcher Ken Rubin and shared with CBC News show that veterinarians working in Prince Edward Island and other inspection offices of the CFIA were under "pressure" to get the inspections for diseases and viruses done quickly.

At one point, documents suggest the CFIA got permission to jump the queue over other pending tests to speed up the process and sent batches of eggs to three federal labs across the country for testing.

The CFIA's mandate is to ensure safety in food animals and plants in Canada and in products exported to other countries.

More than six hundred pages of emails show the discussions between the CFIA and AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based company that is producing the world's first genetically modified salmon for human consumption. It is also exporting fish eggs to other countries for research and for fish production.

AquaBounty salmon are genetically altered to grow faster. They are sterile and grown in landlocked tanks in Prince Edward Island and Panama.

The salmon were approved for human consumption in May, 2016 in Canada, but leading up to that approval, AquaBounty was negotiating its first major permits for genetically modified salmon eggs for export to China, Argentina and Brazil for research. It was also seeking new permits to send eggs to Panama for commercial use.

'Pressure' on inspectors

Canadian food safety inspectors set up a schedule to conduct four "disease freedom tests" on hundreds of fish eggs before they were granted export permits.

But documents suggest the plan resulted in a scramble for CFIA inspectors to test the salmon eggs. Meanwhile, it appears they were facing "pressure" from AquaBounty, which needed to meet its export deadlines. The documents show top officials at the food safety regulator were concerned over the short time frame and pressure from the company.

"I am wondering if you are aware of the status of the Export Certificate of salmonoids … The stakeholder rep. is bugging our inspectors in P.E.I.," said Samson OgunTona, CFIA'S National Operations Veterinary Specialist, in an email from January, 2016. 

AquaBounty egg screenshot

A screenshot from the AquaBounty website showing genetically-modified salmon eggs. (AquaBounty web video)

"The exporter is putting tremendous pressure on Ops in Atlantic region to conduct testing for export," warned Michael Langlet, a policy and programme specialist, a month later.

Documents show AquaBounty was concerned that after its March 23 deadline, fish eggs would start hatching and would be useless to its customers. It sent regular e-mails to CFIA inspectors about the tests.

"When will the results be available on the last set of samples?" an employee at the company asked the CFIA in March as the deadline loomed.

"Is there anything I can do to assist this process?" asked the company representative; at one point the person offered to help write the export labels for its products.

CFIA: prompting 'not unusual'

The chief regional inspector in Atlantic Canada, David Cameron, says discussions with the exporter are just part of the process.

"It's not unusual for us to receive some prompting from industry ... regardless of commodity, to facilitate those exports," said Cameron in an interview with CBC.

AquaBounty didn't respond to CBC's questions by deadline, but in an email exchange with CBC News on Jan. 3, the company denied it was improperly pressuring the federal regulator.

"We had eggs with a limited shelf life (i.e., viability) that needed to be shipped by a certain date and we had provided CFIA with all the information required to obtain the permits," said Dave Conley, AquaBounty's director of communications wrote in an email.

"We were only asking CFIA to do their job and complete the process in a timely manner."

AquaBounty salmon filet

AquaBounty has been approved to sell genetically-modified salmon as food in Canada and the United States. The company says once its salmon is harvested it cannot be distinguished from regular salmon. (AquaBounty)

At one point, it appears the CFIA gave permission to one of its Newfoundland veterinarians to put the salmon eggs at the top of the testing priority list.

"Karla had asked and received permission for those samples to jump 'queue,'" wrote the CFIA's national manager, Joanne Constantine.

The CFIA's David Cameron says AquaBounty didn't get any special treatment.

"It's not necessarily jumping the queue. This is a very perishable product and in the interest of preserving its integrity and its viability … exports take priority over imports and depending on the commodity and perishability," he said.

But the documents also show the CFIA was keenly aware of the commercial impact of the exports.

The federal veterinarian responsible for testing at AquaBounty Farms, Jean MacLean, wrote in an email, "There is pressure to get testing done for export purposes for this operator on a very short timeline."

"I asked my Inspection Manager ...about it as this has a very large commercial impact," she said in the email contained in the documents.

It appears it was also an issue for one of the CFIA's top veterinarians.

"CFIA is aware of the urgency which Aquabounty has concerning these negotiations. CFIA addresses these negotiations as a trade issue priority for Aquabounty, and is addressing these negotiations as a priority," wrote Dr Douglas Aitken, national operations veterinary specialist.

'Great deal of back and forth': critic

The coordinator for the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network says the CFIA appears to have lost sight of its main job — to impartially test for product safety.
"The CFIA was spending a great deal of time and resources facilitating this product," said Lucy Sharratt in an interview with CBC.

"It's not the government's responsibility to make sure that AquaBounty can move its products around. The responsibility in this case is to make sure the products are safe when they're moved around."

Sharratt's group acts as a watchdog on genetically modified products and fought unsuccessfully in court to try to stop approval of AquaBounty's salmon.

She thinks the emails show the CFIA was heavily influenced by the company's schedule to get its products quickly tested for export.

"There was a great deal of back and forth with many people over the testing and the timeline of the testing. And the types of pressure put on labs to jump the cue. That there was some sort of an allowance made for AquaBounty because of this time frame," said Sharratt.

She also wonders about how much the CFIA was influenced by the company and the economic value of the controversial product.

"It is a concern that departments are not prepared to deal with the type of corporate pressure that can be brought to bear on them from companies, she said.

"How to make sure that staff can do their jobs in the context of the right mandate without becoming advocates for companies."

But David Cameron says the CFIA doesn't cut corners when it comes to testing, no matter what the product.
"We would not endorse an export certificate unless we were sure that all of the health any safety factors were addressed by one method or another."

Exterior of the AquaBounty salmon facility

The exterior of the AquaBounty genetically-modified salmon facility. (AquaBounty)

According to the documents, between January and March 31 of last year, the CFIA approved all the new export permits for genetically modified salmon eggs for which AquaBounty applied.

It has approved three more export permits for AquaBounty since then.

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Once upon a time...my mother was into "Let's try this recipe from Gourmet Magazine!"  Salmon eggs (excuse me, roe) in jellied consume...served cold in her best crystal goblets.  To this day I can remember the taste/consistency :o:S  As they say in Panama "Guacala!" (or huacala if you prefer) Disgusting!  My dad used the leftovers to catch trout. 9_9

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Keith Woolford    308

This article appeared in both the Toronto Star and Washington Post this week.

About 4.5 tonnes of GMO salmon consumed in Canada so far, company says

AquaBounty produces a fish that grow four to six times faster than other Atlantic salmon and reaches market weight twice as fast.


Genetically modified salmon have been approved for sale in the United States, but labelling complications have prevented them from coming to market. In Canada, however, according to a report released Friday by the company AquaBounty, about 4.5 tonnes of genetically modified salmon filets have been sold so far.

Eric Hallerman, an expert in fisheries and fish genetics at Virginia Tech who is not affiliated with the company predicts that we will see many more genetically modified fish and other animals on shelves around the world in the future.

The AquaBounty salmon, called AquaAdvantage, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from a Chinook Salmon. In the wild, salmon produce the hormone only when the conditions are right for rapid growth. In the AquaAdvantage salmon, a regulatory switch from an ocean pout gene makes the fish produce growth hormone all the time, so the AquaAdvantage salmon grow rapidly throughout the year.

Read more:

Groups want hearings on proposal to grow world’s first genetically modified salmon in P.E.I.

GMO salmon coming soon to a grocery near you

Canadian scientist thrilled to the gills by U.S. approval of genetically modified salmon

These fish, which are raised in fish farms, grow four to six times faster than other Atlantic salmon early in life, said Hallerman, and they reach market weight twice as fast. This shortens the total production time from three years to a year and a half and reduces the amount of feed they consume by 10 per cent.

Fish farms can be established on land in tanks, or in the ocean in floating net enclosures. AquaBounty originally intended to produce the genetically modified eggs and sell them to commercial fisheries, which would grow the fish primarily in floating nets, said Hallerman. He was involved in assessing the potential environmental impact of this plan, and raised concerns about it.

The salmon eggs AquaBounty produces are all female, and their number of chromosomes has been modified to make them sterile, like seedless watermelons. However, this process is not 100 per cent successful, and Hallerman and others worried about the potential for these fast-growing salmon to escape and mix with wild populations. After raising these concerns with AquaBounty, the company agreed to address them, and, “they’ve stood by their word,” said Hallerman.

AquaAdvantage salmon eggs are produced in a land-based research facility on Prince Edward Island. If the eggs were to escape the facility, they would find themselves in salt water, where regulators predict they would be unable to survive. (Salmon hatch and develop in fresh water, then swim to salt water to spend most of their adulthood.) The eggs are then shipped to a land-based aquaculture facility in Panama, thousands of miles from the nearest Atlantic salmon population, where they grow to market weight. The FDA and Environment Canada conducted environmental analyses in light of these precautions and gave the fish the go-ahead.

Last month, AquaBounty purchased a fish farming facility in Indiana. The company plans to begin sales in the U.S. in the second half of 2019, Dave Conley, a representative told the Washington Post in an email. When regulations in the U.S. will actually permit sale of the salmon remains unclear.

The FDA approved the salmon in November of 2015, and Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency followed in May of 2016. Sales began in Canada in 2017, said Conley. Because Health Canada concluded that these salmon are “as safe and nutritious for humans and livestock as conventional salmon,” labelling was optional and left up to the discretion of the grocers who distributed the filets.

In the U.S., the regulatory landscape is less straightforward. When it comes to GM foods, “[regulators] found existing laws and stretched out the scope of those laws to cover biotechnology products,” said Hallerman, “and it’s awkward.”

In some other countries, such as Australia, whole new acts were drawn up specifically to cover biotech products. In the United States, square pegs were shoved into round holes. For example, because many genetically modified plants are generated using a modified version of a bacterium that can be an agricultural pest, these plants are regulated as plant pests. Genetically modified animals are regulated as drugs, which is why the Food and Drug Administration is responsible.

That could help to explain why these salmon, which were first developed back in 1989, are only now reaching the marketplace. Despite the 2015 approval, the salmon still hasn’t hit U.S. shelves due to a section in the congressional spending bill which requires that the FDA finalize guidance related to labelling before imports can begin.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act (signed into law in 2016) charges the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates most meat and fish, with developing a national mandatory standard for disclosing the presence of bioengineered material in food by July 2018. But it is unclear whether the FDA will align its labelling guidance with the USDA’s. Further complicating the debate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski just this month introduced a bill that would require the salmon to include the label “genetically engineered.”

In the meantime, Hallerman said there are several genetically modified animals that have already been produced and are waiting for the salmon to carve their way through the regulatory landscape. In addition to other fish, these include cows and goats that produce nutritive compounds in their milk, disease-resistant livestock, mosquitoes that die before breeding, and more.


Edited by Keith Woolford

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TwoSailors    88

Reminds me one time I was in Whole Foods to purchase fresh wild caught fish. There were few selections but plenty of fish labeled farm raised. I asked the guy behind the counter which he sold more of? He said the farm raised because it is cheaper. He also said," Sir, one day, Farm Raised fish will be the only choice you will be able to buy!" That "one day" is coming here much quicker!

Edited by TwoSailors

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MarieElaine    27

There are small farms that are growing "organic" trout, salmon and tilapia.  These fish take longer to grow and, because they spawn naturally, are seasonal.  In my opinion, GMO is not necessary if we all learn to eat what is available seasonally.  

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