"Frankenfish" Legislation Introduced by Begich, Murkowski and Young

Feb 7, 2013

All 3 members of Alaska's Congressional Delegation are sponsoring legislation in response to tentative approval of the first genetically engineered animal intended for human consumption.

Late last year the Food and Drug Administration released a finding of no significant impact for the genetically modified salmon that AquaBounty Technologies is seeking approval to market as food. The prospect of allowing the creation and distribution of the genetically modified Atlantic Salmon has drawn vocal opposition from Alaska's 2 U.S. Senators and the state's lone member of the House of Representatives. On Thursday Congressman Don Young introduced a bill to require all genetically engineered fish sold for consumption to be labeled. In a prepared statement Congressman Young said,

"A majority of American consumers want GE food labeled".      

Young claims data submitted to the FDA shows that genetically engineered salmon contain 39-percent higher levels of a hormone linked to cancer and exhibit 58-percent higher total fat than natural salmon.        Congressman Young's bill was filed in the House while on the same day Senator Mark Begich introduced legislation to ban the genetically modified salmon that he is calling a "Frankenfish". In a press release announcing the new legislation Begich said,

"We cannot afford to experiment with the world's largest wild salmon stocks without certainty that these fake fish won't pose a serious environmental risk, especially to wild salmon and their habitat."       

Begich is the lead sponsor of the bill called the "Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States". AquaBounty Technologies new fish is called the "AquaAdvantage Salmon" and it's a hybrid of an Atlantic salmon modified with a growth gene from a Chinook salmon. The new fish is also modified with an antifreeze gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout. If ultimately approved the "AquaAdvantage Salmon" would be the first genetically engineered animal destined for human consumption. Senator Begich has also filed a second bill that would require any GE salmon to be labeled as genetically engineered. Both of the bills put forward by Senator Begich are being supported by Senator Lisa Murkowski who issued a statement claiming that we shouldn't imperil a fishery with an unknown that could create doubts about the entire industry.