In 2012, Health Canada received a submission to allow the sale of a genetically modified salmon which grows faster and reaches market size sooner than conventional farmed salmon, called AquAdvantage salmon. In order to determine whether the salmon could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured the salmon is safe for consumption, still has all its nutritional value and therefore does not differ from other salmon available on the market. Our scientists also needed to assess how the salmon was developed and whether it can be toxic or cause allergic reactions.
The AquAdvantage salmon was approved for sale in Canada. The science behind the salmon involved the introduction of a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon into the genome of Atlantic salmon. This results in a salmon which grows faster and reaches market size quicker. In every other way, the AquAdvantage salmon is identical to other farmed salmon.
Scientists with expertise in molecular biology, microbiology, toxicology, chemistry and nutrition conducted a thorough analysis of the data and the protocols provided by the applicant to ensure the validity of the results.
Following this assessment, it was determined that the changes made to the salmon did not pose a greater risk to human health than salmon currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that the AquAdvantage salmon would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of the AquAdvantage salmon compared to other farmed salmon available for consumption.
Health Canada's assessment of AquAdvantage salmon was conducted according to the Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals. The approach taken by Health Canada in the safety assessment of GM foods is based upon scientific principles developed through expert international consultation over the last 20 years with agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The approach taken by Canada is currently applied by regulatory agencies around the world in countries such as the European Union, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, and the United States.