Murkowski and Young Host Panel on Potential Dangers of GE Salmon

Today U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) hosted a genetically engineered salmon briefing to discuss the potential risks of the world’s first FDA-approved genetically engineered animal for human consumption. This effort took steps to educate and build awareness about the inappropriate approval process taken by the FDA, the potential ecological impacts, health risks, and the dangers of not properly labeling genetically engineered (GE) salmon. The briefing also was aimed at garnering support for legislation addressing the issue.

The briefing brought together a group of panelists which included representatives from Food and Water Watch, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Alaska Trollers Association, Consumers Union, and the Center for Food Safety.

(Click image to watch Senator Murkowski speak about the risks of GE salmon.)

“It’s incredibly important that we gain a greater fact-based understanding of what we are dealing with when it comes to genetically engineered salmon. To me, this is inconceivable to make something as biologically perfect as wild Alaskan salmon and conduct a science experiment—creating a new species that can endanger our healthy fish stocks,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I am certainly not going to serve it to my family when you can’t guarantee it’s going to be safe. I don’t think we should experiment with food safety and food security.”

“I have long opposed the marketplace approval of GE Salmon, not only because of the flawed process in which it was approved but for the serious impacts it could have on wild salmon species, ocean ecosystems and the U.S. fishing economy,” said Congressman Don Young. “Today’s briefing was an important step in raising awareness for the FDA’s misguided decision, while also building a broad coalition of support for efforts taken in Alaska and elsewhere to institute mandatory labeling requirements for GE fish and seafood. I’ve always said that if this science project were ever approved, at the very least the American consumer should be given clear and transparent information about what they are eating.”

“The inappropriate process that was used is really the root of all of these problems. There is a better way to evaluate this type of product—a new process specifically for these issues should be developed, we should not be relying on an old process,” said Dr. Jillian Fry, Project Director, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “The ecological concerns were not properly taken into account when the FDA did their assessment. The way that they considered environmental impacts was very limited. The inappropriate approval process is related to the inadequate data that this was based on, and the lack of labeling will make it very difficult to evaluate safety. And it’s not just the lack of labeling, but if the labeling is not clear and does not properly communicate the information to consumers, that’s concerning.”

“Anything that can compromise human health and fisheries affects me and my family, fishing communities and our state. It’s extremely important to fishermen that consumers have the opportunity to know precisely what they are buying for their dinner table,” said Dale Kelley, Executive Director of the Alaska Trollers Association. “Trollers are used to transparency. The only secrets we have are what fishing lure we’re using and maybe if we’re lucky, today’s hot spot. We catch fish and deliver them to the processer where each one is counted, weighed, and identified by species. What you see is what you get. A king salmon is a king salmon through and through, but GE salmon have a surprise inside.”

Background: Senator Murkowski previously introduced legislation to mandate labeling of genetically engineered salmon. Congressman Young introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Related Issues: Alaska's Fisheries