AquaBounty responds to whistleblower’s allegations of safety violations
October 26, 2022 By Nestor Arellano
AquaBounty, the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) company that has developed a genetically engineered (GE) salmon, is facing allegations from a former employee of mishandling of chemicals and unsafe water conditions at its Indiana facility. The Massachusetts-based company has fired back saying the allegations were raised by a group opposed to GE salmon.
AFN, a publication that reports on the food-tech and agri-tech industry, reported on Tuesday that a former AquaBounty employee named Braydon Humphrey had shared photos and videos of the alleged unsafe activities at AquaBounty to Block Corporate Salmon, a site run by a network of campus and community-based organizations campaigning for food sovereignty.
The AFN said the videos and photos show salmon tanks with unsafe fibreglass and heavy metal particles, leaks of aerosolized hydrochloric acid, discharge of high levels of ammonia into surrounding watershed, and lack of safe drinking water for employees.
AFN said it contacted AquaBounty and obtained a statement from AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf.
“AquaBounty is an aquaculture company raising fresh Atlantic salmon in safe, secure, and sustainable land-based farms in North America. The allegations in the article are not accurate. These unverified claims, made by a former employee over two and a half years ago, are being raised by an anti-GE group opposed to our salmon,” said Wulf.
She said he company recently completed “with high marks” a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) audit of its facility.
AquaBounty created its AquAdvantage branded GR salmon using a growth hormone regulating gene from a Chinook salmon and a promoter from an ocean pout was added to the Atlantic salmon’s genes. This enables the AquAdvantage salmon to grow year-round instead of only during the spring and summer. The fish is able to grow to market size in 16 to 18 months while regular salmon takes up to three years.
In April 2019, Environment Canada approved the commercial production of genetically modified salmon produced by AquaBounty in a facility in Rollo Bay in eastern P.E.I. AquaBounty also secured permission to export GM salmon eggs from P.E.I. to its facility in Indiana to be grown out.
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