After 6 months of asking the CFIA to confirm whether they retested my ISA virus samples or not - I got an answer from the Ministry of Health.
This unforgivable situation risks the wild salmon economy of the North Pacific and Canada's reputation as a trade partner.
Dear Minister Ambrose
Thank you for prompting the CFIA to finally answer my question; did they retest the samples I sent to the Kibenge lab for ISA virus testing or not?
Dr. D. Ian Alexander (CFIA) says in his letter to me that my samples were never retested. Download Ltr to Alexandra Morton re ISA BC Salmon.pdf (439.9K)
This is highly significant and something is very wrong here.
I accept that the CFIA has its reasons for not retesting my samples, however they took my samples from the lab and went to lengths to inform the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) that the ISA virus results by the Kibenge lab were "non-repeatable".
Download CFIA (Evans) Letter (00627482).PDF (414.2K)
The Kibenge lab was one of only two labs in the world designated by the OIE as an ISA virus reference lab. That is why I chose to use this lab. The CFIA recommended the lab be suspended, the OIE complied, but will not state why. The word "non-repeatable" suggests the CFIA repeated the tests with different results. But clearly that was not the case.
The CFIA needs to report to you why they told the OIE that the Kibenge results were "non-repeatable." Who exactly repeated tests on my samples taken from the Kibenge lab and where is that data?
In one of Canada's biggest newspapers, the CFIA urged the OIE to suspend the Kibenge lab because "government labs couldn’t replicate his results."
The Kibenge lab is not alone it its findings. Several Canadian government labs submitted test results to the Cohen Commission that were positive for sequences of the ISA virus in BC (exhibits 2040, 2053-136a, 2055, 2043, 2060, 2051, 2052). As well, Dr. Are Nylund, University of Bergen, testified at the inquiry that he got results positive for ISA virus sequence in BC.
ISA virus is an internationally reportable virus for all members of the World Organization for Animal Health.
"Mr. Warkentin [Cermaq, owned largely by the Norwegian government] said the aquaculture industry, which raises about 32-million fish a year in B.C., 91 per cent of which are Atlantic salmon, is holding its breath while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigates the ISA positive findings made by Fred Kibenge, at the University of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Veterinary College."
The CFIA testified at the Cohen Commission that if ISA virus is in BC - borders would close to BC farmed salmon. It appears as if the industry held its breath and the CFIA compromised its integrity.
When ISA virus repeats its grimly inevitable global pattern and mutates into a virulent outbreak in British Columbia, risking the wild salmon economy of the North Pacific, and Canada's reputation as a responsible member of the world trade community, the record will show results from a top Canadian lab could have been used to contain the virus. Look at what is underway in Eastern Canada. The CFIA allows ISA-positive farmed salmon to remain in the water and approved them for sale to the public. New variants of ISA are now spreading along the coast of eastern Canada. ISA is not something that can remain hidden.
Minister Ambrose, you were given oversight of the CFIA last month because Stephen Harper can see there are serious problems with the CFIA and this is one of them
This goes beyond the CFIA. I also attach a "confidential" memo wherein the BC government veterinarian briefed a provincial minister that ISA virus is not a threat to BC because live Atlantic salmon eggs have never been imported to BC. In fact, nearly 30 million live Atlantic salmon eggs had been imported when Dr. Sheppard wrote that and he was the man in charge of their health. Dr. Sheppard now works for Fisheries and Oceans Canada - still in charge of farmed salmon health. This further erodes confidence in Canada's response to this virus. Download ISA Confidential BCP1001938 exhibit 1679.pdf (491.4K)
All I ask is that you do what you can to allow the Kibenge lab to continue its work without further harassment. There is a reason the OIE chose this lab in the first place. The Kibenge lab diagnosed the ISA epidemic before it hit Chile with a $2 billion bill. Norway has used this lab, the industry has used this lab. They are on the leading edge of scientific publication on the ISA virus. There was never an issue with the Kibenge lab until it reported ISA virus sequence in BC, which apparently threatens trade in BC farm salmon.
Again, thank you Minister Rona Ambrose, I have been asking the CFIA to confirm whether they retested my samples or not for 6 months, one letter to you and I get the answer. Prime Minister Harper was right to appoint you to oversee the CFIA.