AK Legislature to Hear Engineered Salmon Testimony

Alaska’s House Committee on Labor and Commerce will take testimony today (Wednesday, April 13) on a bill opposing the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of AquaBounty AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon.
The fish in question is produced by adding a growth-hormone regulating gene from the Pacific Chinook salmon and a gene from an eel called the ocean pout to allow the new salmon to produce growth hormones year round.
House Joint Resolution 28, sponsored by Representatives Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage; Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks; Dan Ortiz, non affiliated-Ketchikan; and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D- Sitka; urges Congress to enact legislation that requires prominently labeling genetically engineered products with the words “Genetically Modified” on the product’s packaging and encourages the restoration of wild, native populations of salmon in areas where development has negatively affected salmon.
In her sponsor statement for HJR 28, Tarr noted that the commercial fishing industry is the largest private sector employer in Alaska and that annual seafood exports are worth more than $3.25 billion.
“Residents fill their freezers and smoke houses with healthy wild seafood,” Tarr said. “This industry and way of life would be jeopardized with the inevitable, accidental release of transgenic fish into the wild.”
“In addition to the impact to the commercial, sport and subsistence fishing, the long-term health effects of consuming genetically engineered salmon are unknown,” Tarr said. “A majority of state residents oppose the approval of the genetically engineered salmon and more than 2,000,000 nationwide submitted comments opposing the approval of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon. Additionally, 40 members of Congress have voiced opposition.”

AquaBounty (www.aquabounty.com) has said that its product will be raised in land-based production systems away from the ocean, eliminating the risk of escapes that could impact native fish populations and risk of pollutants or contaminants that could harm marine ecosystems. Its product also would grow to market size using 25 percent less feed than traditional Atlantic salmon on the market today, the company has said.