Alaska House Fisheries Comittee holds hearing regarding genetically engineered salmon

Mar 1, 2017

House Joint Resolution 12 would urge Congress to enact legislation that would require genetically engineered salmon and salmon products to be prominently labeled as "genetically modified."

Anchorage Representative Geran Tarr speaks to the House Fisheries Committee about HJR 12, which opposes the FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon.
Credit AlaskaLegislature.tv/ Legislative Affairs Agency

The House Fisheries Committee held a hearing Tuesday, regarding a house joint resolution that opposes the FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon.

Audio Transcript:

In November of 2015, the FDA approved AquaBounty AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon. It is the first genetically engineered animal that FDA has OK’d for human consumption.

Anchorage Representative Geran Tarr, who has sponsored similar legislation in the past two legislative sessions, is the resolution’s primary sponsor. She offered a statement at the hearing.

“So, what you get when you have the genetically modified fish is you have something that makes it grow bigger and faster,” said Tarr. “We have to question the difference between what’s healthy for an ecosystem versus what is an economic opportunity.”

The resolution expresses concern that the long term effects on human health of consuming genetically engineered salmon are unknown and that if the modified salmon were to escape, they could threaten wild fish populations, including wild salmon.

The committee amended the resolution. Originally it would have urged congress to enact legislation that requires prominent labeling of all genetically engineered products. They amended it to ask for the labeling of genetically engineered salmon and salmon products.

The floor was opened to public testimony, but no one testified. A variety of organizations in the Alaska fishing industry, including the United Fishermen of Alaska and the Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance have expressed written support for the resolution. HJR 12’s next stop is the House Resources Committee.

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.