Another roadblock or barrier is in the process of being erected in the case of 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 Food and Drug Administration is in agreeance with the company and seems eager to approve their application to continue ahead with their aim of putting the fish on America’s dinner tables, although they have not as yet given approval to the company’s request.
In an effort to thwart approval of the “Frankenfish,” Alaska’s Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski, has teamed up with her fellow Alaskan Senator, Democrat Mark Begich, as well as Senator Cantwell (D-Washington), Senator Leahy (D-Vermont), Senator Merkley (D-Oregon), and Senator Sanders (I-Vermont).
Senator Murkowski filed an amendment today to require a comprehensive analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of genetically-engineered fish by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The legislation would mean the same NOAA analysis and standards in place for federal fisheries would be required before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves genetically-modified salmon.
Citing that FDA approval does not take into consideration nor is it required to evaluate how a worst-case scenario of fish escaping into the ocean ecosystem could adversely impact the seafood industry, Senator Murkowski’s amendment (attached) would require NOAA’s research staff to prepare a review of potential drawbacks of genetically-engineered salmon becoming a reality, using the public review process Alaska’s fishermen are used to.
“We need to look before we leap here, and make that a long hard look,” Murkowski said. “This means that we not only make sure that genetically-engineered salmon is healthy to put in our bodies and doesn’t endanger our fishery resources, but also that it is healthy to our coastal environments and economies. Alaska produces over half of the nation’s seafood, and constructing fish in a lab is a science experiment that adds a new variable to the equation – we need to fill in all the blanks before we put Frankenfish on our plates.”
AquaBounty, the company behind the “Frankenfish,” was originally incorporated in 1991, when it incorporated, it was under the name A/F Protein. Its aim at that time was to pursue commercial development of anti-freeze protein-based technology. In 2000, the company was re-organized as two separate identities, A/F Protein and AquaBounty Farms. In 2004, they changed their name to what it is today.
AquaBounty cites two decades of research into the development of the salmon and also points out the environmental benefits of the salmon saying that the salmon would mature in half the time necessary for wild stocks and effectively reduce overall fishing pressure of the wild stocks.
Opponents of the fish point out concerns of the fish escaping into the wild with detrimental effects. Although the company says that the chances of that happening are minimal and point out that the fish consists of a sterile, all female population. Fears that the fish would find a way of overcoming that characteristic remain however.
Concerns of an impact that the fish may have on the human auto-immune system have also been cited, opponents of the “Frankenfish” say that there has been very little research and studies into that possible outcome.
If approved, the fish will be the first genetically engineered animal served up on America’s dinnerplates.