GE salmon not worth the risk to health and environment


Adam S. Sealey

Call of the River
“The Call of the River.” An original painting by Autumn Skye Morrison.

• The wild salmon that return to us every year, offering their nourishment, inspiration and beauty, are a miracle of creation. Autumn Skye Morrison’s “The Call of the River” inspired Salmon Wisdomon the back of 7”x9” versions and was shared with friends, family and colleagues. People were inspired by it!

It reads, in part, “Salmon are an important part of the wheel of life, a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness and a teacher of self-sacrifice. To indigenous cultures of the Northwest, salmon are highly respected and appreciated, symbolizing instinct, determination, prosperity and renewal. The Celts believe salmon to be one of the wisest and most ancient of all animals, representing wisdom, transformation and inspiration.”

In September, the US company AquaBounty, started by two Canadian men with the goal of developing and marketing genetically engineered salmon, stated in an FDA document that they would very soon apply to  Health Canada for market approval in Canada where they feel that “the key” to worldwide acceptance of genetically engineered salmon lies. According to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, CBAN, “AquaBounty does not yet have permission from Environment Canada to commercially produce its GE salmon eggs at its PEI facility. Environment Canada refuses to disclose if the department is already assessing a request from AquaBounty.” Their plan is to ship these ‘Franken-salmon’ eggs to a facility high in the mountains of Panama to be grown to market size in tanks, harvested, packaged and shipped back to us to eat. Does this sound crazy? It gets worse.

In 2009, the DFO reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus had been found in the GE salmon in the supposedly secure AquaBounty research facility on PEI. What if these infected salmon were to escape their tanks in PEI or Panama through flooding or some other disaster? AquaBounty says that 95% of the salmon would be sterile females and the rest males. But they can’t guarantee ISA infected male salmon wouldn’t escape into the biosphere. It’s yet another pending environmental disaster and the entire process of assessing the environmental risk is being done in secret without public consultation. Canada has not even ratified the UN protocols on bio-safety for international transport of living modified organisms.

There are also the health implications of eating GE salmon to consider. Dr. Mercola already lists conventional farmed salmon as the worst in his top 10 foods to avoid. Add in transgenic engineering of Atlantic salmon with genes from an “eel-like creature” the “Ocean Pout” and a Chinook, and then feed it a diet of God only knows what GMO-derived feed, antibiotics and drugs and this plan is a health train-wreck right out of the gates.

Please write to the Minister of the Environment and Health Canada and express your concerns. For an easy to use form letter that will be sent to the right people, visit and click on “No GM Fish” and follow the links. Raise awareness in your community about GE salmon. It could be approved or rejected any day now in the US where there have been delays and considerable push-backfrom the public and lawmakers.

Rather than engineering Franken-Salmon to feed people we should be exploring ways to help wild salmon populations remain strong, sustainable and understood by the people. We should be having a conversation about how to take care of the environment in which they are born, the ocean in which they mature and the path they swim to reach their ocean feeding grounds. Instead of blaming climate change, ignoring the salmon farming which are spreading diseases and parasites into our oceans, and basically giving up on wild salmon, we should be looking to nature and ourselves for clues as to how to create the conditions for long term wild salmon health. This autumn, the Pink salmon returns from the Fraser River all the way up to the Skeena were massive. How did that happen and what clues does it give us to answer these questions?

On September 12, Mark Hume wrote in the Globe and Mail: “The massive return of one species – pinks – coming on the heels of a disastrous run of another –sockeye – may be linked to a dramatic shift in ocean conditions last year. And it has raised questions about the possible role of a controversial experiment that took place when the Haida Salmon Restoration Corp. dumped iron materialin the ocean last summer, stimulating plankton growth just as the pink salmon were moving through the area.”

People in the know about this have told me that “dumping” is not what they did, but rather they strategically dispersed 100 tons of the iron-rich rock dust over a large area to find out if they could fertilize that part of the ocean for increased plankton growth, and thus nourish all marine life, many species being food for wild salmon among a myriad of other creatures.

What about the totally unexpected 2010 Sockeye return to the Fraser River – nearly 40 million? How did that occur? That’s a conversation that needs to happen and the reason why the Artists Response Team, with musicians Kevin Wright and Holly Arntzen, along with artist and ocean ecologist Russ George, are presenting a new musical show and tour called 40 Million Salmon Can’t Be Wrong, which hopes to inspire a national conversation about the phenomenon of those 40 million sockeye. Scientists were predicting only one million would return, but there was a 4,000% increase, after the Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian slands erupted in 2008, dispersing mineral-rich volcanic ash over the North Pacific ocean. The plankton bloomed and ocean life exploded. That summer, the baby Sockeye that swam out to sea from the Fraser River, along with all other marine life, were treated to a feast of plankton nourished by the volcanic dust. They grew and grew and returned to our rivers, 40 million strong. Read theCBC article about the researchers at the University of Victoria who pieced the story together here

Find out when this show is coming to your community at

Let’s talk about how we can ensure wild salmon for generations to come not how we can genetically engineer them in such a way that we get to run away from our shared responsibility to take care of the life systems that naturally gift us with this precious food and source of cultural and personal inspiration for all, especially our indigenous cultures.

Whether it’s GMO corn, soy, canola, cotton, non-browning apples, alfalfa or salmon, people all over the world are finally coming to the understanding that taking care of our food system is each person’s responsibility. Government agencies have proven that they cannot be trusted with this sacred duty. People the world over have the ability and the survival imperative to create a better food system than big agribusiness interests can or ever will. More food is currently being grown by small to medium sized farm operations than big agri-corporations. We can build on this and we are!

We can clearly see genetically modified and engineered foods are only about the corporate monopoly of the food system through patents and selling lots of pesticides, etc. They are only about shareholder profits. GMO crops are damaging human, animal and environmental health to an extent we just don’t know, bankrupting farmers with patent infringement lawsuits and stealingfood sovereignty from all of humanity and nature. The promise of GMO crops producing an increased yield have been de-bunked. They don’t. They are a crime against all life on earth. People are finally dumping Monsanto stock as the world wakes up to the crimes against nature, people and common sense these big agribusiness corporations are committing.

People are standing up, finding their power and their voices and taking unprecedented actions to re-imagine and remake our food systems healthy again, with justice for farmers and truth for all.

On October 12, UN World Food Day, millions around the world will take to the streets again in the March Against Monsanto. In Vancouver’s March starting at 10AM at the Vancouver Art Gallery one of the highlights will be a live performance of Michael Jackson VS GMOs –– Don’t Eat It, an anti-GMOmockumusic video set to the music of Jackson’s Thriller and Beat It. Created and performed by our very own Raamayan Ananda (Swami G) and Tha Truth IS Media Alliance, this flash-mob performance and music video will engage andinspire generations of Michael Jackson fans to get involved in this cause, spread the message about stopping GMOs and perform the templated flash-mob dance in their community. Like Michael Jackson says in his song Man in the Mirror, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” Check out the preview video at Search Don’t Eat It and please support the production with a donation. The video is set to be released on Friday, October 11th as part of Vancouver’s march!

Common Ground salutes everyone doing such amazing work for a better world though art, science, activism and principled business.

We are the change we want to see in the world! Come and stand with us!


2 thoughts on “GE salmon not worth the risk to health and environment”

  1. A rare Sabertooth whale washed up on shore dead long way from its normal range. Several rare serpentine oarfish have washed ashore dead. Sockeye salmon and haddock numbers are also down. Sardine populations have plummeted. Invasive species have increased. Salmon in the Salish Sea are dying. We shouldn’t be poisoning the ocean dumping iron into it. Before fertilization of the ocean there should be legitimate studies to see how iron “fertilizing” effects the environment. Greedy corporations shouldn’t be ripping off Native Americans to pollute the ocean as part of a scam to try to get carbon credits. They need to stop violating international law.


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