Ottawa - New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic Fin Donnelly tabled a motion in the House of Commons that would require the government to provide greater clarity on the risks of genetically modified salmon.

“Canadians are concerned that the federal government is moving ahead with permitting genetically modified salmon for human consumption” said Donnelly. “The public has a right to know if this is really happening and to know of any risks connected to human health, and of potential impact on the fishery, marine species, habitat and ecosystems.”

AquaBounty, an American company, is asking the US Food and Drug Administration to approve GM salmon for human consumption in the United States and intend to ask the Canadian government for the same approval.

AquaBounty is not requesting to develop the salmon in the US, but rather to grow the eggs in a facility on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, then ship the eggs to grow out in Panama. If permitted, the adult GM salmon would ultimately be sold in the US. The Canadian government is refusing to say whether they are close to approving GM salmon for human consumption or not.

“When the health of Canadians is potentially at risk, the federal government and its agencies must act with full transparency and accountability,” said Megan Leslie, NDP Health critic. “This government has already demonstrated questionable priorities on a number of food-related files. A failure to exercise due diligence with respect to the safety of genetically modified salmon could have negative consequences for the health of individuals.”

Sixty-three fisheries and oceans conservation, environmental and social justice groups released a joint statement in December 2010 opposing GM fish.

“We urge all Members of Parliament to support this basic request for transparency," said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. "Why would departments hide the fact that they are doing a risk assessment? There's no reason to keep Canadians in the dark."