Alaska Congressman Don Young is continuing efforts to fight allowing genetically engineered salmon to be sold as food. On Tuesday Congressman Young joined 2 Democrats from California in introducing a new bill called the "Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States Act".
The issue of addressing genetically engineered salmon has been a top priority of Alaska's Congressional Delegation due to a proposal put forward by AquaBounty Technologies to market a genetically altered Atlantic salmon for human consumption. The proposal is currently being considered by the Food and Drug Administration. In a written statement Congressman Young said,
"This legislation sends a clear message to federal regulators, shareholders of the companies producing genetically engineered salmon, and concerned consumers."
Young's legislation would prohibit the shipment, sale, transportation, and possession of genetically engineered salmon unless NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undertakes a full environmental impact statement that finds that the new salmon will pose no significant threat to the environment.
Earlier this week the Chief Executive of AquaBounty Technologies said that he anticipates getting FDA approval for the new "AquaAdvantage" salmon before the end of this year. The FDA is currently accepting public comments through Friday on the draft environmental assessment and preliminary finding of no significant impact that was released late last year. Once the public comment period ends the FDA could take up to 120 days to issue their final approval of the new salmon.
AquaAdvantage Technologies plans to produce the eggs for the new salmon in a facility on Prince Edward Island in Canada. The eggs would then be shipped to a facility in Panama where the new salmon would be reared. The AquaAdvantage salmon is basically an Atlantic Salmon modified with a growth gene from a King salmon and an antifreeze gene from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout. AquaBounty Technologies believes the new salmon will grow to market size in half the time of regular salmon. If approved the "AquaAdvantage Salmon" would be the first genetically engineered animal specifically created for human consumption. If the FDA approves the new salmon there will almost certainly be legal challenges, which could further delay the efforts to market the new salmon. If the new salmon is not approved there could also be a legal challenge filed by AquaBounty Technologies. Several retailers have already said they will not sell genetically modified salmon including Whole Food's and Trader Joes.