Knowledge for better food systems

GM salmon hits the shelves in Canada

Photo credit: Isaac Wedin, Salmon face, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0

After a 25 year wait for approval, approximately five tons of genetically modified (GM) salmon have been sold in Canada in the last few months. The fish, which contains genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout, can grow twice as fast as an Atlantic salmon and requires 75% less feed to grow to the same size. These changes can ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of each genetically modified salmon by up to 25 times, the company claims.

These fish have been at the center of a heated debate surrounding labelling of modified products in Canada. They have sparked outrage from several activist groups, and two supermarket chains have said they will no longer stock the fish. However, as the first genetically modified animal to enter the food supply, others are welcoming the change, describing the GM salmon as a breakthrough for sustainability.

The GM fish could in principle help curtail the overfishing of Atlantic salmon. However, the presence of foreign genes in the GM fish might also present a risk to wild populations if interbreeding were to occur. For the moment, the fish remain sterile and are only raised in landlocked tanks but expansion of the breeding of the fish is planned.

Around 30 GM fish species including tilapia and trout have been developed worldwide and are looking for government approval in Canada.

Read more on The Guardian, Scientific American, CNBC.

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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