When it appeared that S.1717, an act for the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States, would fall one vote short of being passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Begich pulled the bill from consideration.
Begich’s S.1717, an act for the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States, would have prohibited the sale of Frankenfish unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a finding that production of Frankenfish would have no significant impact or found to be consistent with the National Environmental Protection Act.
The bill was introduced on October 17th of last year and sent to the Senate Commerce committee the same day. Alaska’s Senator Murkowski co-sponsored the bill.
The legislation would have made it illegal to ship, transport,sell or buy across state or national borders, the highly controversial “Frankenfish” the genetically altered Atlantic Salmon sporting genes from the Pacific King Salmon and Ocean Pout, another eel-like species of fish.
The genetically altered salmon, tagged with the moniker of “Frankenfish” by opponents of the new, human-made species of salmon, was created by AquaBounty Technologies, a Massachusetts company. The new fish exhibits the ability to grow twice as fast as its wild counterparts.
“The FDA Amendments Act of 2006 called for a report on any environmental risks associated with GE seafood production, including the impacts on wild stocks, but to date the FDA has not provided such a report,” Begich said. “As chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries, I find this completely unacceptable. NOAA Fisheries needs to have a stronger role here.”
Begich pointed out that the public has serious concerns about the introduction of Frankenfish into the nation’s food supply including threats to the environment and public health. Begich also stressed that there are concerns that the consumer’s ‘right to know’ what they’re buying and eating is being ignored.
Public opposition to the approval of Frankenfish is strong. Last year, 93 groups representing fishermen, consumers and others signed a letter in opposition to the Frankenfish proposal. Polling data suggests even broader rejection of GE salmon among potential consumers.
“While I have pulled my bill today, this remains a serious issue for Alaskans and many others across our country and I will continue my efforts to oppose Frankenfish,” Begich said. Another Commerce Committee markup is planned in September.