Comparison of a GE salmon, larger specimen, with common salmon. (Photo: Stock File)
Alaska senator introduces GE salmon labeling bill
Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
An Alaska senator has introduced new legislation to mandate genetically engineered salmon (GE) labelling amid the years-long fight against what is deemed as “fake fish or Frankenfish.”
The Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, requires any GE salmon to be labeled as such and it requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure a third-party independent scientific review of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) environmental assessment for all GE finfish, including GE salmon, for human consumption.
“The primary purpose of this bill is to ensure that consumers have all the facts and can make an informed decision when they are purchasing salmon. There’s a huge difference between ‘Frankenfish’ and the wild, healthy, sustainably-caught, delicious real thing – and I want to make sure folks are aware of that. I will not accept that this ‘fake fish’ will be sold in stores without clear labeling,” claimed Senator Murkowski.
The senator also explained that this bill would create a much-needed review of the environmental assessment process within the FDA for the approval of these new species that are being created in labs, adding that the potential for escapement from pens to occur from hatcheries and any facility where fish are grown would decrease the immense value of fisheries.
“These ‘Frankenfish’ could wreak havoc upon wild stocks and pose a serious threat to the livelihoods of fishermen everywhere. Americans deserve to know exactly what the effects of these new species will be upon the ecosystem,” she pointed out.
The legislation was introducing during the height of Alaska’s commercial and sport salmon fishing season. Preliminary harvest figures compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game showed that as of July 15 commercial fishing vessels had caught in excess of 62 million salmon, including more than 32 million in Bristol Bay and 13.5 million in Prince William Sound, The Cordoba Times reported.
The multi-million dollar commercial and sport fishing industries together provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Alaska, from processing to shipping and marketing.
In December 2015, Murkowski inserted a provision in the federal omnibus legislation blocking the FDA from introducing GE salmon into the market until the agency published labeling guidelines to inform consumers about the product.
In January 2016, in response to Murkowski’s efforts, the FDA put an import ban on GE salmon until those labeling guidelines were published.
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