You may be unknowingly eating genetically modified salmon

When was the last time you ate a genetically modified fish? If you said never and you've had salmon recently you may need to revise your answer.

In August, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies announced that it had sold four-and-a-half tons of genetically modified salmon to customers in Canada. AquaBounty does not disclose client information, and because there is no law requiring the fish be labeled as genetically modified, it's not known which retailers, restaurants, or food service providers bought the salmon.

The genetically engineered salmon came from a breeding farm in Panama, where they are modified to be a new fast-growing fish, taking just 18 months to reach standard market size as opposed to the normal 30 months.

According to data obtained by La Presse, Quebec imported an unusual amount of fish from Panama right around the time of the sale. Typical import habits show salmon coming from Iceland, Chile, Ireland and the United States. 

The US Food and Drug Administration deemed the fish safe in 2015; Health Canada came to the same conclusion last year. However due to labeling complications in the US, the fish have not yet made it to market. In Canada, Health Canada concluded the salmon did not pose a greater risk to human health than salmon currently available, and did not require it to be specially labelled as genetically modified.

Thibault Rehn, of the Quebec group Vigilance GMO said Quebecers and Canadians have unknowingly been used as guinea pigs.

In Quebec, grocery stores Provigo, IGA and Metro as well as Costco have all said they would not sell the fish.