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A review says scientists and government bureaucrats at British Columbia’s animal testing laboratory are not in any conflicts of interest.

Premier John Horgan appointed his top deputy Don Wright last year to review the integrity of B.C.’s animal testing laboratory in Abbotsford after concerns were raised about a potential conflict of interest in test results done on farmed salmon.

Wright said in a statement Thursday the report makes nine recommendations about developing conflict of interest guidelines and conducting regular conflict of interest audits.

“I am satisfied that the Animal Health Centre operates with strong professional, scientific and ethical integrity,” Wright concluded in his review. “My review process found no evidence of ’dubious data or conflict of interest.’ ”

Wright said he also agreed with the conclusions of an external review of the provincial lab by consultants Deloitte, also commissioned by the government last year.

“Our independent assessment of the AHC did not identify any evidence of financial or technical conflict of interest regarding the diagnostic activities of the AHC,” says the Deloitte review, released by the premier’s office with Wright’s report.

“There is always the potential for a perception of conflict of interest to arise given the fact that salmon farm operators are subject to periodic Department of Fisheries and Oceans audits, which rely upon the diagnoses of AHC laboratory scientists and veterinary pathologists,” the Deloitte report states.

Wright acknowledged debate among scientists about the impacts of salmon farming on wild stocks in areas like the Broughton Archipelago on Vancouver Island will continue.

The review was prompted last year after public comments from a federal Fisheries and Oceans biologist about potential conflicts linked to provincial test results on farmed B.C. salmon because the lab also does work for the aquaculture industry.

Provincial fish pathologist Gary Marty said at the time it was correct to suggest there may be a perception of conflict at the provincial lab, but there are extenuating circumstances.

Marty said the Abbotsford facility is the largest in Western Canada and it often conducts tests on animals, including farmed salmon, for government and private business. He said governments and private entities use the lab’s services rather than leave the country.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said the review cleared any perceptions of conflict of interest at the province’s animal testing laboratory.

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