AquaBounty seeks more funds to produce GM salmon in Prince Edward Island
Despite multiple provincial grants and loans, the company AquaBounty is now offering $10 million in common stock to help cover its costs of growing the first batches of genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) salmon in Prince Edward Island (P.E.I), Canada.
“The costs of raising genetically modified salmon just keep increasing but Islanders have already paid a lot through provincial grants and loans. Its hard to make money from a product that no one wants to buy,” said Leo Broderick of the P.E.I. Chapter of the Council of Canadians. “We should never have given out one single penny of public funds to support this risky venture.”
AquaBounty was majority owned by the U.S. biotechnology company Intrexon until late in 2019 when Intrexon sold all of its shares to the investment firm Third Security led by former Intrexon CEO Randal Kirk.
The Atlantic salmon is genetically engineered to grow faster using a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon and genetic material from ocean pout. The company says it can grow nearly three times faster than other salmon in fish farms. Health Canada approved the GM Atlantic salmon as safe to eat in 2016 and it was first sold in Canada in 2017, without labelling.
“The company decided it can only sell GM fish in Canada if it’s sold to consumers without labelling. To me, this is not a consumer success story,” said Mary Boyd of the Mackillop Centre for Social Justice in P.E.I.
AquaBounty does not have any GM fish sales currently. The company closed their small pilot plant in Panama in 2019 and are now waiting to harvest the first batches of GM salmon from North America from the on-land plant at Rollo Bay in P.E.I. and the plant in Indiana, U.S. The company says it expects its first harvests to be in June 2020.
In their press release of January 27, AquaBounty stated that it, “intends to use the net proceeds of the proposed offering, if completed, to continue construction and renovation activities of its existing facilities in Rollo Bay and Indiana, for working capital costs associated with growing its first batches of fish at its Indiana and Rollo Bay farm sites, and for other general corporate purposes.”
The Government of P.E.I. most recently provided a $2 million loan, in 2018, to complete construction of the GM fish factory. The Government of Canada has provided over $8 million in grants and loans to support the development of the GM salmon.
A 2015 Ipsos Reid poll found 45% of Canadians said they would “definitely not” eat the GM salmon, with only 11% saying they would. 88% said they want mandatory labelling of all GM foods.
 AquaBounty, Press Release, AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. Announces Proposed Public Offering of $10.0 Million of Common Stock. January 27, 2020. https://aquabounty.gcs-web.com/news-releases/news-release-details/aquabounty-technologies-inc-announces-proposed-public-offering-1
 Ipsos Reid, 2015. Posted at www.cban.ca/2015poll