Alaska Senators Fight Against "Devastating" Genetically-Engineered Fish

U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski joined six other Senators in a letter to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today, warning the agency not to dismiss the clear congressional opinion opposing the approval of genetically modified salmon. 

The agency is considering an application by Aqua Bounty, Inc. to grow genetically-engineered salmon in Panama for importation into the United States, with plans to eventually grow the fish in the U.S.   The genetically-altered fish would grow faster than natural fish and there are serious concerns about the impact of escaped fish on wild salmon stocks, the suitability of such fish for human consumption, and the FDA’s approval process for the fish.

“I steadfastly oppose potential FDA approval for Genetically Engineered Salmon.  The FDA process is not the right one to fully evaluate the impacts of this new product,” Sen. Murkowski said. “The effects of unlabeled GE salmon in the market place could be devastating if consumers are confused about buying salmon.  Even though we know that if it says Alaska, it is always going to wild, we have seen the markets respond to fear and confusion in the past.  GE salmon could cause dramatic market impacts for wild salmon and this issue must at least be acknowledged, but FDA is completely ignoring it. I am prepared to do everything possible to prohibit funding for FDA approval of GE salmon in the Senate appropriations process.”

“FDA hasn’t considered all of the potential negative impacts of genetically-altered fish and the strong opposition in Congress to approving something that could decimate wild salmon populations,” Sen. Begich said. “Recent scientific evidence shows that if genetically-modified salmon escape, they could successfully breed with wild stocks, potentially destroying the genetic adaptations that have allowed fish to thrive for millennia. Alaska wild salmon is abundant and sustainable.  We don’t need Frankenfish threatening our fish populations and the coastal communities that rely on them.”

Others signing the letter include Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Daniel Akaka, and Sen. Patty Murray.

The House of Representatives also sent a letter to the FDA today with the same message: Don’t approve genetically modified fish when Congress clearly opposes it.