AquaBounty fined by Panama

PANAMANIAN officials have fined US GM salmon company, AquaBounty, for regulatory failures at its plant in Panama, reports www.theguardian.com
The biotechnology company was fined for a series of permitting and regulatory failures surrounding the company’s attempts to create genetically modified salmon.
The fine could well impact AquaBounty’s application to sell GM salmon in the US. Indeed, if the application was approved, it would be the first GM meat available for human consumption in the world.
Speaking to IPS, Dana Perls, from Friends of the Earth, said: ‘AquaBounty is really out front on this – the current case will set an important precedent.
‘From what we know, there are about 35 other genetically modified species in the development pipelines in other companies.
‘So depending on what happens in this case, we’ll likely either see a flow of other permits or this will demonstrate that there isn’t room on the market for GM meat or seafood.’
The Panamanian fines have alerted many campaigners to the fact that the application process in the US – which would see fillets from AquaBounty’s facility in Panama being sold on the US market – is too rapid.
Luisa Arauz Arredondo, an attorney with the Panama Centre for Environmental Advocacy – who filed the complaint against AquaBounty – told IPS: ‘The impacts GM foods will have on health and the environment have not been sufficiently assessed to approve human consumption of this salmon.
‘The salmon would not be sold to Panamanian consumers, since the human consumption of GM salmon has not been approved by Panama or the US.’
The decision to fine AquaBounty is the culmination of an investigation that began in 2012 and was concluded in July of this year. It was found that the company had not secured a number of necessary permits, and that they had repeatedly failed to do so.
AquaBounty was quick to comment that the fines related to administrative issues, and said in a statement to IPS: ‘It is important to emphasize that none of the issues in the Resolution questioned the containment, health of the fish, or the environmental safety of the facility.
‘When AquaBounty was informed of issues at our Panama facility, we immediately contacted Anam, the Panamanian agency for the environment. We initiated a program to remedy the deficiencies and the issues were formally resolved in August of 2014.’
The statement also emphasised that the facility ‘continues to operate with no sanctions or restrictions.’