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A GM salmon by AquaBounty and a much smaller common one. (Photo Credit: AquaBounty)

GMO labelling battle restarts

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Monday, January 20, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Only some months from the rejection of genetically modified organisms (GMO) labelling by Washington voters, the battle restarts in Olympia.

Lawmakers on Friday heard a bill that would require labelling genetically engineered salmon for sale.

Opponents call the modified salmon a "frankenfish." They worry that the modified fish will decimate the natural salmon population if it escapes and breeds in the wild. Others believe breeding engineered animals is an ethical issue.

On its part, AquaBounty Technologies, which produces the so-called AquAdvantage Salmon, insists on that this fish is safe. They say it will be grown as sterile, all-female populations in land-based facilities, which will not pose a threat to wild salmon populations.

The company’s genetically modified salmon received the approval of the Canada Ministry of Environment, the country’s government department responsible for the coordination of environmental policies, by the end of last year, determining it is harmless to the environment or human health when eggs and fish are produced in contained facilities.

Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, the bill’s sponsor said, “Salmon is such an ingrained item here. We label farmed vs. fresh caught (fish.) Why wouldn't we label transgenic fish? It just makes sense," Associated Press reported.

Besides, Anne Mosness, a former salmon fisher and director of the Go Wild Campaign that promotes wild fish over farm-raised varieties, said genetically modified salmon could escape their farm pens just as Atlantic salmon do. As they are engineered to grow faster, they would represent a hungry new carnivorous species in Washington waters, The Spokesman Review informed.

Farm groups said any labelling rules should be done nationally, not state-by-state.

Related article:

- AquaBounty authorised for commercial GM salmon production

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