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Sep 08 2010

Is corporate ownership of salmon Legal?

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Is corporate ownership of salmon Legal? Apparently not! According to Madam Justice Newbury in her clearly written reasons for judgement in Marine Harvest’s petition to the COURT OF APPEAL FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA – Morton v. Marine Harvest Inc., 2009 BCCA 481 fish in the ocean cannot be considered private property.

Justice Newbury did not accept the notion that farmed fish could be privately owned! That said, does any corporation have the right to alter the genetic makeup of something that is not their property?

AquaBounty Technologies have create a genetically engineered fish that grows at twice the normal rate for twice the profit. Someone has created a fish – a man made fish to be owned by a corporation.

They “combined growth hormone genes from an unrelated Pacific salmon,(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) with DNA from the anti-freeze genes of an eelpout (Zoarces americanus). This modification causes production of growth-hormone year-round, creating a fish the company claims grows at twice the normal rate”…

It seems that Scientists and Researchers have patented a new life form with the intention to farm it in ocean net pen feed lots.  Has anyone thought about eating an “animal drug”? That’s what the FDA has on their table and that’s what will end up on someone’s dinner plate if (GE) salmon gets approval.

GE fish are the first genetically engineered (GE) animal to be approved for human consumption. FDA doesn’t do its own testing on GE products, it uses corporate information supplied by the company that plans to profit from the approval.  Apparently, the FDA is ready to approve this stuff without considering the effects on humans who eat it (or wild salmon that share the ocean). Once an altered gene is turned on in the lab, then released into the environment it cannot be turned off and we all know that “mistakes may have been made”…

So if the FDA approves GE salmon and the fish farms bring it to Canada,  farmed fish that don’t belong to anyone (according to Justice Newbury) will suddenly belong to a corporation  – Corporate interests will claim ownership of those fish – it will go back to the Court while planet Earth copes with a man made fish that will never go away. Does anyone else see this as a problem? Does anyone see a legal conflict here?

Who creates the law in Canada and the US? The Courts or the scientists? The elected people of Government or Agencies (like the FDA, PMRA and Health Canada)? These Agencies rely on funding and research data from Corporate interests!

On top of antibiotics, pesticides, disease, sea lice, bleach, tons of raw sewage, fish farms will be releasing the unknown risk of GE salmon genes into the common ocean and owning something that they can’t legally own.

Where are the leaders who “get tough” on corporations whose actions results in planetary or human destruction from ignorance and economic greed? Out to Lunch?

Right now, Bill C-474 would require “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

According to Colin Mayes:

“The reason our Government opposed this bill is that it would have required the Minister of Agriculture to create regulations which would impose an economic analysis on the creation of genetically engineered crops in Canada.” and “the further potential to put a chill on research and development in Canada’s agricultural sector.”

I say Chill out – what’s the cost of Genetic seeds to Canadian Farmers? LOTS but that’s not the only number to crunch – add in the cost of a spoiled environment where farmers can’t grow organic food? MORE than LOTS! When can research trump food? When food is plentiful and money is the need for survival. Put the fish back in the bottle please.

There are campaigns to stop GE food – On August 27, 2010 a JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
was released by:

CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY – FOOD AND WATER WATCH – SALMONAID- NORTHWEST ATLANTIC MARINE ALLIANCE – ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION – FRIENDS OF THE EARTH – THE LIVING OCEANS SOCIETY – SMALL BOAT COMMERCIAL SALMON FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATION – THE GEORGIA STRAIT ALLIANCE – CALIFORNIANS FOR GE-FREE AGRICULTURE – THE ORGANIC & NON-GMO REPORT – PLANETARY HEALTH, INC. – SIERRA CLUB – SAY NO TO GMOS! – CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH – CANADIAN BIOTECHNOLOGY ACTION NETWORK – INSTITUTE FOR FISHERIES RESOURCES – AMERICAN ANTI-VIVISECTION SOCIETY – PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION OF FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATION – MANGROVE ACTION PROJECT – FOOD FIRST / INSTITUTE FOR FOOD AND DEVELOPMENT POLICY – EDEN FOODS, INC. – THE NON-GMO PROJECT – NORTHWEST RESISTANCE AGAINST GENETIC ENGINEERING –PCC NATURAL MARKETS – AMBERWAVES – GLOUSTER FISHERMEN’S WIVES ASSOCIATION – FRESH THE MOVIE – WASHINGTON BIOTECHNOLOGY ACTION COUNCIL – OREGON PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Write your own letter to President Obama or sign a petition at Food and Water Watch

Get in touch with CBAN Coordinator : Lucy Sharratt  who said in her e-mail

“Escaped GE salmon threatens the planet with “genetic pollution resulting from what scientists call the “Trojan gene” effect.” Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a release of just sixty GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 would lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 generations.”

We won’t be alive – Does anybody care? Who wins? The one with the most money or the one with common sense? It’s up to us to consider the future of this planet.

1 comment

  1. April Reeves

    The same eelpout gene in this salmon was the gene that was spliced into the FlavrSavr tomato, and we all know where that went! Great post Priscilla! Another annoying truth: Canadians payed for this technology! A look at AquaBounty’s financial reports shows a company in deep waters. Aqua Bounty lost more than $8 million in 2006, and more than $6.5 million each year in 2007 and 2008, and projected a $5 million loss for 2009. Despite the losses, the company recently received a $2.9 million grant from the Canadian government’s “Atlantic Innovation Fund” and $100,000 from the US National Science Foundation.

    We must educate consumers about this and do it now!

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