International Groups call on Panamanian Government to Correct Flaws in Regulatory Oversight
Brussels—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 today in Panama by the environmental group Centro de Incidencia Ambiental de Panama (CIAM).
Food & Water Europe, GeneWatch UK, Food & Water Watch, Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth U.S. and Canadian Biotechnology Action Network formed an international coalition of groups to support 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.
Food & Water Europe’s EU Food Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell said, ”The story of AquaBounty’s GM salmon appears to be one of hiding from regulatory scrutiny in the highlands of Panama. The authorities in both the U.S. and Panama now have a new series of serious questions to answer about their assurances that the GM salmon project is safe and lawful.”
The FDA is considering commercial approval of AquaBounty’s GM salmon allegedly based on a scenario in which AquaBounty would produce GM salmon eggs at a facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada, which are then shipped to the facility in Panama to be grown to harvest. Fillets would then be shipped to the U.S and sold unlabelled to consumers. However, significant questions about the viability and legality of this plan continue to emerge.
“FDA’s ineffective and inappropriate regulatory regime has reached its logical conclusion, as it appears that AquaBounty is essentially self-regulating in Panama,” according to Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Europe. “If and when FDA finally approves GM salmon and new production facilities open up around the world, we expect this scenario to play out again and again.”
The CIAM complaint comes on the heels of several other reports of major problems at AquaBounty’s Panamanian facility, including the company reporting “lost” GM salmon, which resulted from the region’s notoriously severe weather. The area around AquaBounty’s facility also experiences routine, destructive flooding.
Mitchell added, “The European salmon industry has a good deal to fear from GM salmon. People don’t want to eat GM animals, and if this fish circulates unlabelled in the U.S. it may well have knock-on implications for all salmon sales, costing even wild salmon exporters dear. Coupled with the serious risks to the environment and wild salmon populations posed by potential escapes, the risks heavily outweigh any theoretical gains. Does the world really need a GM salmon so badly?”
The text of the letter sent to the Panamanian authorities is available at documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/CIAM_group_support_letter_final_english.pdf
Eve Mitchell, EU Food Policy Advisor, Food & Water Europe +44 (0) 7962 437 128