U.S. Senator pushes for GE salmon label rule


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
July 17, 2015

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has added language to an upcoming bill that will require labeling for any genetically-engineered (GE) salmon sold to consumers in the United States.

The language is an amendment sponsored by the senator to the FY16 Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spending bill. The bill, along with the amendment, has passed out of committee, and is now awaiting a final vote by the full Senate.

GE salmon has been controversial from the moment it was discovered, with companies such as AquaBounty still waiting for FDA approval for GE salmon sale in the United States.

“If the FDA moves forward, as it currently is, there would not be a requirement to ensure that people know what it is that they are eating,” Murkowski said. “People need to know whether they are eating a genetically-engineered fish or they are eating a wild Alaskan salmon that we promote so strongly in our state.”

Murkowski is among the loudest critics of GE salmon, which she and others have labeled as “Frankenfish” due to concerns about interbreeding with wild stock and the general public’s uncertainty about the science behind GE products.

Murkowski said she pressed for the amendment despite worries from land-based agriculture activists who say this might somehow affect labeling rules for land-based GE crops.

“I would just remind you — corn does not swim from one field to another and propagate with other corn in another state,” she said. “Fish move! Fish escape. We’re told these genetically-engineered fish will not mix with our wild, healthy stocks. Yet you can’t assure us that this in fact will be the case.”

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