Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Frankenfish Legislation

Legislation that would prohibit the federal Food and Drug Administration from approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption has passed in the US House but still awaits action in the Senate, where Senators Mark Begich, D-Alaska and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have also voiced opposition.

The action came as an amendment by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, to the $125.5 billion Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2012. That amendment would prohibit the FDA from spending funds to approve an application from Massachusetts-based AquaBounty to have genetically modified salmon approved.

AquaBounty says the genetically modified salmon is safe and environmentally sustainable. Young says the so-called Frankenfish is uncertain and unnecessary.

“Any approval of genetically modified salmon could seriously threaten wild salmon populations as they grow twice as fast and require much more food,” Young said. “Additionally there are no guarantees that the fish eggs will not be sold to other nations, where open water net pens are more common or on the other end of the spectrum, cause countries with strict regulations on genetically modified foods to reject U.S. salmon, hurting the U.S. fishing industry during an ongoing economic recession.

Trout Unlimited applauded the House action, expressing concerns over the risks that genetically altered salmon pose to wild salmon populations through competition or interbreeding, should they escape confinement or be released into the wild.

“In Alaska, we particularly welcome passage of this amendment given the tens of thousands of jobs tied to our healthy wild salmon runs,” said Tim Bristol, director of the Trout Unlimited Alaska program. “Alaska’s multi-million dollar commercial and sport fishing industries are based on the abundance of wild salmon.”

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