By Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
6:01 PM AKST, December 21, 2012
Alaska’s congressional delegation was united in its opposition Friday to a draft report from the federal Food and Drug Administration saying that the nation’s health and environment wouldn’t be significantly harmed by genetically modified salmon.
The fish, introduced by Massachusetts biotechnology firm AquaBounty, are engineered to grow much larger than wild salmon -- but many Alaskans see them as a threat to both the market for and the existence of wild fish.
Sen. Mark Begich said Friday that the FDA’s draft environmental assessment was the first step toward the release of what he called “Frankenfish” into the environment, comparing such an act to the devastation wrought in the wild by invasive species.
“The notion that consuming Frankenfish is safe for the public and our oceans is a joke,” Begich said. “I will fight tooth and nail with my Alaska colleagues to make sure consumers have a clear choice when it comes to wild and sustainable (fish) versus lab-grown science projects.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski shared Begich’s concerns, pointing out widespread opposition to the new fish.
“I am concerned with the recent news that FDA is moving forward with the approval of genetically modified fish,” Murkowski said in a Friday statement. “This is especially troubling as the agency is ignoring the opposition by salmon and fishing groups, as well as more than 300 environmental, consumer and health organizations.”
Rep. Don Young said he hoped to pass labeling requirements meant to keep the modified fish off the market.
“In the 113th Congress, I plan to reintroduce legislation that will at a bare minimum require genetically engineered salmon to be labeled to ensure that the public knows what they are purchasing at the grocery store and feeding to their families,” Young said.
Begich says the FDA is required by a 2007 reauthorization bill to submit a report on the potential impacts of genetically modified salmon -- a report it hasn’t yet delivered.
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