Aquaculture

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Anticipating critics, AquaBounty creates protocol to avoid mix-up of GM, conventional salmon eggs

Company says it has long-established protocol for differentiating conventional from GM salmon.

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This week Canadian and US environmental groups that included Friends of the Earth and Canadian Biotechnology Action Network called on the aquaculture and seafood industry to boycott AquaBounty’s Atlantic salmon eggs.

The groups claim there is an environmental risk from AquaBounty's commercial Atlantic salmon eggs accidentally mixing with its genetically modified (GM) salmon eggs, which are both produced from conventional eggs raised at the same facility in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada.

"AquaBounty had anticipated this concern and taken the initiative to address it well in advance of any egg shipments," AquaBounty Communications Director Dave Conley told IntraFish in response to the criticism.

Earlier this year, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) approved production of the GM salmon at the company's land-based Rollo Bay facility in PEI. The facility is the first GM seafood production site in the world along with a facility AquaBounty has in the United States in Indiana.

The Rollo Bay operations for conventional and GM salmon eggs are separate and are not fertilized at the same place at the same time, according to the company.

"In consultation with the Canadian regulatory agencies, AquaBounty will not provide conventional eggs to any party before using a validated assay and standard operating procedures to confirm the eggs are conventional salmon," Conley said.

"The public and the salmon farming industry can be assured that we are doing everything to prevent the sort of error identified by these environmental groups. AquaBounty has developed a robust quality system over the three decades of working with our salmon."

The company anticipates its first commercial harvest of its GM salmon in the fall of next year.

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