Washington, D.C. – After years of pushback from consumers, scientific experts and fishing interests, today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first ever “approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon.” The Alaska Congressional Delegation, who has consistently fought to keep genetically engineered (GE) fish off the nation’s dinner plates and away from our nation’s oceans, today shared their disappointment in the FDA’s ill-advised decision.
“I am livid at the FDA’s announcement to approve genetically engineered ‘salmon’—what seems to be more science experiment than fish or food,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I have adamantly opposed the approval of GE salmon, both for the health of Americans and the sustainability of our fisheries, but now that the decision has been made, the next step must be to ensure that Americans know what they are consuming. I have introduced both a bill and provision in the appropriations process to mandate the labeling of Frankenfish, and it is more imperative than ever, after this potentially disastrous decision, to make sure they become law.”
“I am extremely disappointed in today’s decision by the FDA,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “Genetically Engineered (GE) salmon has no business on our dinner plates. I remain committed to ensuring that at minimum, these newly approved Frankenfish are properly labeled so that Americans know exactly where their salmon came from. Wild Alaskan salmon is an abundant, sustainably managed resource, and despite this misguided decision, will continue to be one of the healthiest and tastiest foods in the world.”
“This harebrained decision goes to show that our federal agencies are incapable of using common sense,” said Congressman Don Young. “From the beginning, I’ve said the FDA’s process fails to consider the threats GE fish pose to natural salmon fisheries, including genetic contamination, interbreeding, and direct competition. By embarking on this science experiment, the FDA ignores fundamental risk questions related to our wild fish species and food safety. I will continue to push back against this decision that puts all our wild fisheries at risk. At the bare minimum, we must ensure that GE salmon are labeled so consumers know exactly what they are purchasing and feeding to their families.”
In addition to approving AquaBounty Technologies’ application for GE salmon, the FDA issued draft guidance for manufacturers wanting to voluntarily label their products as containing GE or non-GE ingredients. Under this guidance, additional labeling of AquAdvantage Salmon would not be required because the FDA says it found no material difference from its natural counterpart. Manufacturers could voluntarily label their food products as “not genetically engineered” or other variations under the FDA’s guidance.
Since 1996, AquaBounty Technologies has been developing GE salmon with the hopes of receiving FDA approval to sell it for human consumption. The specific process splices genetic material from the Chinook (King) salmon with that of a pout fish and Atlantic salmon. The resulting organism, the company claims, would grow to the size of an Alaskan King salmon in a shorter period of time than found in nature.
The Alaska Delegation has sponsored and supported numerous pieces of legislation to eliminate the threat of GE fish, including efforts to effectively ban the shipment and sale of such products, and others that would require labeling of GE salmon. Congressman Young has two bills pending in the 114th Congress:
- The first bill, H.R. 394, the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States (PEGASUS) Act, would effectively ban all GE fish in the United States by prohibiting the shipment, sale, transportation, purchase, procession, or release into the wild of GE salmon or other GE finfish unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service completes a full environmental impact statement and concludes that it will result in no such impact to the environment.
- The second bill, H.R. 393, would improve efforts to inform the American consumer by requiring the labeling of all GE fish sold for consumption. With the growing concerns for approval of GE fish for human consumption, H.R. 393 would force the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require the labeling of these controversial products.
To view the full FDA News Release, please go to http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm473249.htm.