Opposition to GM salmon has no scientific basis: researcher

Daniel MacEachern
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A scientist behind genetically modified salmon technology says new opposition to his work is misguided.
Dr. Garth Fletcher of Memorial University’s department of ocean scientists said Friday that two environmental groups opposed to the sale of AquAdvantage salmon for human consumption — currently being assessed by Health Canada — are rehashing old arguments that have no basis.

Memorial University professor Dr. Garth Fletcher is shown at his research lab at the Memorial University's Ocean Sciences Centre (Marine Lab) in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

“They’ve been against it for about 20 years. They haven’t changed their minds. Of course it’s safe,” said Fletcher, one of the scientists whose work in the 1980s is being used by AquaBounty of Massachusetts, who want to sell the salmon in Canada., adding he finds it silly, not frustrating, to have to keep defending his work.

“They don’t have any scientific basis for their argument, and I’m a scientist. But you know, what can you do?” he said. “This is what they like to do, and it’s just part of human society, that there are those who are against things and those who are for them. They haven’t any argument that’s based on a scientific issue.”

As reported by The Telegram on Friday, the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre and the Vancouver-based Living Oceans Society have accused the federal government of not following the proper process in allowing AquaBounty to produce AquAdvantage eggs in Prince Edward Island, and of being secretive about the assessment of the salmon flesh. If the federal government allows the sale, it would be the first time genetically modified meat has been approved for human consumption in Canada.

Fletcher said he’s confident Health Canada will give the meat the go-ahead, but he’s unsure whether it will be a tough sell in the marketplace. “You have all these groups that are against it in general,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s here or in the United States.”

But he noted AquaBounty’s counting on it being successful.

“It’s really the company that takes the risk. That’s what they’re doing,” he said.

“One would like to think the product will get to the marketplace. I can’t tell you how successful the product will be as a commercial venture, because that’s a marketplace thing.”



Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society

Geographic location: Canada, Massachusetts, Prince Edward Island United States

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Recent comments

  • david
    March 15, 2014 - 18:21

    Doesn't matter, professor. you can study this 'til you die, you can know everything there is to know, and people here will reject it as Satan's work done by those in "the back pocket of big corporations". Case closed. Life is now so good that this generation has chosen to embrace a new Dark Ages. Everything with an eco-slant, no matter how ill conceived and completely fact-free, is the nouveau gospel. Science has been declared worthless.

    • VRP
      March 16, 2014 - 16:51

      It has all the hallmarks of a new religion, impervious to reason and evidence.

    • david
      March 17, 2014 - 09:40

      VRP: Whether people believe the tenets of any religion is none of anyone's business, and others should not comment on its legitimacy. But adopting the mindset of 'unquestioned belief' for incredibly important issues that affect the lives of others, and acting to impose that on everyone else, is unacceptably selfish and ignorant.

  • Corporate Psycho
    March 15, 2014 - 09:11

    All I know is I ain't eating it.

    • Observer
      March 16, 2014 - 13:19

      All I know is that I'm eating it!