Stop Genetically Modified Fruit Fly From Entering the Food Chain

Target: Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada

Goal: Follow a thorough assessment procedure before releasing genetically modified organisms into nature.

Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is in the process of reviewing whether to approve the application for a genetically modified fruit fly, called the EntoEngine. The assessment process is part of a wider review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The government is in the midst of updating CEPA, its first such initiative in 22 years. EntoEngine is a natural bioreactor, created by Edmonton-based Future Fields. A natural bioreactor is essentially an organic vessel that could be used for growing recombinant proteins within the body of the organism, instead of manufacturing in steel tanks. Recombinant proteins have a wide range of potential benefits, including applications in vaccine technology, medicines, and cultivated meat. However, the biodiversity group, Nature Canada, raised objections to the release of the genetically modified organism, citing potential risks to the natural food chain.  The organization is demanding that the government holds back the fruit fly from entering the natural cycle until a thorough analysis is completed.

The federal government has already completed an assessment process through voluntary participation. The process was kept active for a highly limited window of 30 days. Mark Butler, a senior adviser of Nature Canada, has objected to the process, saying that it has been inadequate. The voluntary public consultation was based on only two paragraphs of information regarding EntoEngine. The information included an unverified claim that the fruit fly “poses no known risks to either humans or animals.” Butler has compared the process to a pipeline proposal that is being considered based on two paragraphs of information and that too via voluntary participation.

Jalene Anderson-Baron, Future Fields co-founder, has stated that biotechnology can be a highly effective tool to fight against climate change. She also said that it has the potential for “immense positive benefit on people and the planet.” However, she also stated that Future Fields fully supports the rigorous assessment of new organisms to “ensure the safety of Canadians and the natural environment.”

Synthetic biology is a highly contentious field that demands further transparency. Demand the Canadian environment ministry pause the release of EntoEngine without a detailed assessment.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Guilbeault,

The Environment Ministry is in the process of updating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act for the first time in 22 years. The review includes an assessment of the genetically modified fruit fly, EntoEngine, manufactured by Future Fields.

The government has already completed the public consultation process via a voluntary participation program for a 30-day period. However, the consultation may not be sufficient to decide whether a GMO product can be released in nature. It was based on only two paragraphs of information, including an unverified claim that EntoEngine poses no known threats to humans or animals.

We demand that the federal government holds back EntoEngine until a detailed and transparent analysis is completed.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Daniel Lloyd Blunk Fernandez


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