House Joint Resolution 12, sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, urges Congress to enact legislation requiring prominently labeling genetically engineered products with the words “genetically modified” on the product’s packaging.
In late February the state House Fisheries Committee had the measure under consideration. Tarr’s resolution notes that this is the first time in history that Food and Drug Administration has approved a genetically engineered animal for human consumption and that the majority of Alaska residents, and more than two million Americans oppose such approval.
The resolution also notes that in May 2013, a research report from Canada’s McGill University detailed findings demonstrating interbreeding between genetically modified salmon and brown trout could occur, suggesting that the potential for similar hybridization between other closely related species could pose risks for wild populations, including wild salmon. That research also demonstrated that transgenic hybrid salmon can outcompete with wild salmon and genetically modified salmon, making hybridization relevant to risk assessments, and that with thousands of salmon escaping from open water net pens every year into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans such escapement is a serious threat to wild fish populations.
A copy of the resolution is online at http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/30/Bills/HJR012A.PDF
In a sponsor statement accompanying the resolution, Tarr said that Alaska prides itself in producing the highest quality wild seafood, and that the commercial fishing industry is the largest private sector employer in the state, with seafood exports worth over $3.25 billion annually. Residents also fill their freezers and smoke houses in Alaska with healthy wild seafood, she said.
“This industry and way of life would be jeopardized with the inevitable, accidental release of transgenic fish into the wild, Tarr said.
“HJR 12 is designed to raise awareness about the importance of wild seafood and the commercial fishing industry while highlighting the concerns regarding the long term safety of consuming genetically engineered food products,” she said.