Ecology Action Centre

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Canada's Genetically Modified Salmon Goes on Trial

The story

In late November 2013, the Government of Canada okayed the manufacture and export of genetically modified salmon eggs by Aquabounty, Inc., an American company whose production facility is at Bay Fortune, PEI. This salmon, engineered to grow twice as fast as a natural wild Atlantic salmon, may well be the world’s first genetically modified food animal on the market for people to eat. 

Here at Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society, we believe that the approval for manufacture of this GM salmon is unlawful under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We say the Canadian government failed to properly assess the risks, particularly to wild salmon stocks if this new fish were to escape into the wild. In fact, government scientists have acknowledged that these fish could breed with wild salmon.

Finally, Canada’s federal government has shrouded almost every aspect of its dealings around GM salmon in a cloud of secrecy, denying any public scrutiny of its processes. Living Oceans and Ecology Action are trying to shed light on how a genetically modified animal could reach approval for commercial production without one ounce of public input.

As such, EAC and LOS are took the federal government to court. 

The main legal arguments of the case were based on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. They include:

  • That the federal Ministers acted unlawfully in purporting to complete an assessment of whether AquAdvantage salmon is toxic or capable of becoming toxic without obtaining all the information required by law;
  • That the Minister of the Environment had no jurisdiction to publish a notice setting out permitted uses, based on an incomplete toxicity assessment of AquAdvantage salmon;
  • Alternatively, the Minister of the Environment failed in her legal duties by permitting unassessed uses of AquAdvantage salmon, such as its grow out in Canada, to proceed.

The case came before the Federal Court on November 17, 2015 and the judge released his ruling in December of that year. He ruled against EAC and LOS but did agree that the law prohibits the federal government from allowing AquaBounty to use this genetically-modified organism at locations other than at its assessed facility in P.E.I. putting his ruling in conflict with an approval previously issued by Environment Canada.

The groups felt that the judge’s decision left too many questions unanswered including the conflict between the ruling and Environment Canada’s approval and so have appealed the ruling to the Federal Court of Appeal. No date has yet been set for the hearing. Click here to see the press release on the appeal.

The EAC has also joined a court case against the US government for it’s approval of GM salmon for human consumption. Interestingly, the US approval only approves production at the PEI facility; there is no approval for production in the US. The US court case involves commercial fishing groups, recreational fishing groups, environmental groups and consumer organizations. For more information click here.


What you can do to help

Stay informed! Follow us on Twitter: @GMSalmonTrials for updates, news and ways to help.

Tell everyone! Every time you share the news about our campaign you are helping us to spread the word and reach new supporters.

Sign our petition to Health Canada here.

Send an action letter to the Minister of Environment here.

Send an action letter to the Minister of Health here.

More information

Original media release

Why Genetically Modified Salmon is Not A Sustainable Seafood Product: Report (download PDF)

Take the Pledge to Avoid Genetically Modified Salmon (download PDF)

Media Backgrounder

Risk Assessment of GM Fish - Department of fisheries and Oceans (download PDF)

Final Issued Notice of Application

Final Issued Notice of Application (s108)

EAC Factum

Ministers of Health and Environment Factum

Aquabounty Factum


Be sure to also visit our partners and allies at Living Oceans Society, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Friends of the Earth and the Center for Food Safety.



India's renowned environmental & anti-globalization activist Dr. Vandana Shiva speaks out

The Center for Food Safety supports our fundraising efforts to stop GMO salmon

The following updates were created to support our Indiegogo campaign in the winter of 2014. That campaign is now closed, but the videos contain interesting facts and testimonials.

Update #1 (featuring Karen Wristen of the Living Oceans Society)

Update #2 (featuring Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians)

Update #3 (featuring Joanne Cook of the Ecology Action Centre)

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