NGO questions AquaBounty environmental assessment process
2017-08-08 12:42:57   copyfrom:    hits:

An NGO of Prince Edward Island requests a better environmental assessment process of AquaBounty& 39;s aquaculture p

An NGO of Prince Edward Island requests a better environmental assessment process of AquaBounty's aquaculture project. (Photo: Stockfile/FIS)


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Tuesday, August 01, 2017, 01:50 (GMT + 9)


The Coalition for the Protection of Prince Edward Island (PEI) Water considers the environmental assessment process intended to allow genetically modified salmon to be grown was "faulty."

The assessment raising the Coalition’s concern was conducted by Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Robert Mitchell before approving the proposal by AquaBounty Canada, Inc. to expand their plant in Rollo Bay West.

The original approval was for an egg production facility but it was expanded to a facility at which genetically modified salmon would be grown to market size, and then killed before being exported.

The group expressed unhappiness about the approval for a variety of reasons, including the public consultation process, which they say was inadequate and poorly advertised.

“Even after Environment officials decided to extend the deadline for submissions, there wasn’t really enough time for people to become informed enough or to prepare to respond to the application for such a big project,” stated Catherine O’Brien, Chairperson of the Coalition.

The Coalition is also really concerned about environmental impacts of the new facility, and the potential for contamination of the wild salmon population should a GMO organism escape. They echo the concerns voiced by the Council of Canadians – published on July 17 in The Guardian – about AquaBounty’s environmental record, wastewater treatment and water use.

In responding to the Coalition’s concerns, the Minister indicated that responsibility for such projects is shared between different levels and departments of government. He construed his own responsibilities quite specifically, and was pleased that the current project would use less water than the initial project (approved a year ago), due to a plan to recirculate the water.

In his opinion, the application met all of the specific requirements of established protocols for environmental assessment and felt that any broad ethical discussion about the merits of GMOs would be a federal responsibility, far beyond his jurisdiction.

As to the Coalition members' request for an update on the Water Act, the Minister indicated that the final draft would be posted online when it goes to the Legislature.

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