GeneWatch UK PR: GM salmon: flaws exposed in environmental oversight at Panama facility

Friday 22nd November 2013

AquaBounty's experimental production facility of genetically modified (GM) salmon in Panama is missing multiple legally required permits and inspections, including a wastewater discharge permit, according to an administrative claim filed yesterday in Panama by the environmental group Centro de Incidencia Ambiental de Panama (CIAM).

GeneWatch UK today joined an international coalition of groups supporting CIAM's administrative claim. The coalition submitted a letter to Panamanian authorities yesterday raising serious questions regarding AquaBounty's ability to comply with basic environmental regulations (1).

Aquabounty's GM salmon is awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to become the first food from a GM animal to be marketed anywhere in the world. The fish eggs are intended to be produced on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and to be shipped to an inland facility in Panama to be grown to adulthood. The fish fillets and other products would then be shipped back into the United States. Commercial production of the fish has yet to be approved in Canada or Panama, but experimental facilities are in operation.

"It is shocking that commercial production of GM salmon could be authorised in future in facilities which fail to meet environmental standards" said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK. "Aquabounty must stop treating regulatory requirements like a game of pass the parcel between Canada, Panama and the USA."

The CIAM complaint follows several other reports of major problems at AquaBounty's Panamanian facility, including escapes caused by severe weather.

GeneWatch UK previously submitted evidence to the FDA questioning the approval procedure for the GM salmon (2). The FDA has not undertaken a full environmental impact assessment but plans to approve the salmon on the basis that its production overseas means there will be minimal impact on the environment of the United States. GeneWatch argues that the draft FDA approval fails to protect the global commons and environments of other states because wild salmon populations could be threatened by escape of the GM fish or eggs.

For further information contact:

Dr Helen Wallace:  07903-311584 (mobile)

Maria del Carmen Arias, Communication Officer of CIAM, Phone Number: (507) 236 - 0866 /

Notes for Editors

(1)  The text of the letter sent to the Panamanian authorities is available at Supporters are:  Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Europe, Food & Water Watch, GeneWatch UK.

(2) GeneWatch UK comments on: Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact Concerning a Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon. February 2013.

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