Murkowski Says Too Much Risk in Modified Fish; Encourages Public Comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to approve genetically modified Atlantic salmon for human consumption. If approved, it would be the first genetically altered animal ever approved for human consumption by the FDA.

The FDA will hold hearings later this month on whether to approve the modified Atlantic salmon, which has both the genes of a Chinook salmon and an antifreeze gene from an eel pout. The antifreeze gene allows the salmon to grow during the winter and speeds up the time it takes to grow to market size. The FDA analysis concludes there is "no biologically relevant difference" between the engineered fish and regular farmed Atlantic salmon.

"We have seen too many problems with impacts of farmed salmon already to risk something like this,” said Murkowski. “It is disturbing that the FDA would consider approving this product given the lack of public input and independent scientific review. The FDA needs to consider the impacts this approval would have on the wild salmon industry not only in Alaska but nationwide.”

The growth of the farmed salmon industry had a devastating effect on wild salmon prices in the 1990s, but the industry has slowly recovered by differentiating between wild and farmed salmon. Legislation sponsored by Murkowski to label the country of origin and whether the product is farmed or wild was instrumental in helping the consumer to choose between wild and farmed fish.

"Putting unlabeled, genetically altered salmon in the marketplace is simply irresponsible and the FDA needs to strongly consider what impacts this will have before they approve this Frankenfish," Murkowski said.

The FDA will hold a public meeting on the genetically modified Salmon on September 19, 2010. Information for submitting comments to that hearing can be found here on the FDA’s website.

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