Allowing an American company to produce the eggs of genetically-modifed salmon on P.E.I. would hurt the Island's reputation as a green province, environmentalists warn.

'We will indeed become known around the world as the home of the Frankenfish.'— Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians

The AquaBounty Technologies experimental fish plant in Bay Fortune produces the Atlantic genetically-modified salmon eggs. Implanted genes make the fish grow at twice the natural rate. Aquabounty has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the fish for commercial sale.

The FDA is currently reviewing the environmental risks of the eggs being raised at the P.E.I. facility, then being sent to a Panama facility to be grown to adult size, and finally shipped, table-ready for retail sale in the U.S.

It would be the first genetically-modified animal approved as a food product.

Around 100 people gathered at the Rodd Charlottetown Monday night for a panel discussion on the work being done at the facility in Bay Fortune, on P.E.I.'s eastern shore.

pe-si-aquabounty-salmon-300

These two salmon are the same age, but one is genetically-engineered to grow twice as fast. (AquaBounty)

"We can start right here on Prince Edward Island, by demanding that our government have more scrutiny over the drug factory on Bay Fortune," said Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians.

"That's what's it's going to be labeled as, because we will indeed become known around the world as the home of the Frankenfish."

Environmentalists have expressed concern that these fish could escape into the wild and damage wild salmon populations. AquaBounty has said that risk is small. The fish would be reared in enclosed pools, and 99 per cent of them would be sterile.

Rory Francis of the P.E.I. BioAlliance defended the AquaBounty operation, saying that the fish is the product of the Island taking advantage of its assets.

"The question for Prince Edward Island is do we want to be only buyers of these technologies from other parts of the world, or are we going to actually be a place where we use the bright minds and the infrastructure we have to develop new technologies and take them to the world marketplace?" said Francis.

Environmentalists are holding a series of public meetings across Atlantic Canada in the coming week.

Corrections

  • AquaBounty has never announced plans to rear genetically-modified salmon in the U.S., and the Bay Fortune operation is not the only place in the world producing genetically-modified salmon, as this story previously stated.
    Oct 25, 2011 7:36 AM AT