Bipartisan legislation introduced in the US Senate would mandate labeling of genetically engineering salmon.
The Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure a third-party scientific review of the Food and Drug Administration’s environmental assessment of AquAdvantage salmon, focusing in particular on the effects that GE salmon could have upon wild stocks and ecosystems.
The bill was introduced on March 3 by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK. Senators Maria Cantwell, D-WA, and Dan Sullivan, R-AK, are co-sponsors. Rep. Don Young, R-AK, introduced a companion bill in the House.
AquAdvantage salmon is a genetically modified Atlantic salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies, a Masschusetts based company. A growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter from an ocean pout were added to the Atlantic’s genes to produce this genetically modified fish, speeding growth of the fish to market size in 18 months, rather than three years.
Efforts to bring his fish into retail markets are still in the planning stage and a company spokesman said in late January that they did not plan to start moving fish into retail markets for more than a year.
The US Food and Drug Administration meanwhile, on Jan. 29, banned the import and sale of genetically engineered salmon or product composed in whole or part of such produce into domestic markets until the agency publishes final labeling guidelines, a lengthy process.
Murkowski said she would not let up until such labeling of genetically engineered salmon is mandatory, to make clear to consumers whether they are purchasing genetically engineered or wild salmon.
The Alaska Republican said she remains opposed to the FDA’s approval of GE salmon, for the health of both consumers and fisheries, “but at least with this legislation, Alaskans and consumers across the rest of the country won’t be deceived and will be aware of what it is they are seeing on store shelves.”