Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Legislation to Label Frankenfish Moves Forward in Congress

An amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations bill that allocates $150,000 to implement a requirement to label genetically engineered salmon has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, making it ready for a vote on the Senate floor.

The measure offered by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was approved during the Senate Appropriation Committee meeting on June 20. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska was a co-sponsor. Alaska’s congressional delegation and the Alaska Legislature have opposed efforts by the Food and Drug Administration, which has the matter under review, to approve use of genetically engineered salmon for human consumption.

In a draft assessment released last year, the FDA said genetically modified salmon would not jeopardize U.S. populations of Atlantic salmon, but Murkowski said approving genetically engineering salmon for human consumption would be “messing with Mother Nature in a very serious and big way.”

“This proposal under review by the FDA is being promoted and funded by a Russian entity,” she said. “The genetically engineered eggs would include material from an eel that’s grown in Canada, and then this GE fish is grown in Panama and introduced to us,” she said. “I’m confused how support of those foreign based activities is going to help with jobs here. It’s going to have the potential to devastate a salmon industry in my state.”

Should the genetically modified fish get FDA approval, at a minimum it should be labeled, Murkowski said.

“These fake fish are a serious threat to the health of American seafood lovers and consumers have a right to know what’s on their dinner plate,” Begich said.

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