Washington, D.C. – In their continued fight against genetically engineered (GE) fish, this week Alaskan Congressman Don Young and Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced two pieces of legislation intended to prevent GE fish from making its way onto the nation’s dinner plates and spreading into the nation’s oceans.
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.
Following the introduction of H.R. 394 and H.R. 393, the bill’s bipartisan sponsors shared the following statements:
Congressman Don Young (R-AK):
“The FDA is reviewing GE salmon as if it were a new animal drug, but this type of review process is obviously dead wrong for a product destined for our dinner plates. Furthermore, it fails to consider the possible threat GE fish pose to natural salmon fisheries in this nation, “said Congressman Don Young. “The PEGASUS Act’s message is unmistakable, it tells federal regulators to rethink their approach before a monumental mistake is made that cannot be undone. As lawmakers, we must do everything in our power to protect the public and one of the finest products in the world.”
Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA):
“No genetically engineered salmon should be in our waters or on our dinner plates, unless a full environmental study, using the best available science is conducted to make sure these fish won’t harm natural salmon, our fisherman, and the health of American families,” said Thompson. “The FDA’s evaluation of these fish is inadequate. Until rigorous scientific studies are completed, these fish shouldn’t be in our waters or stores.”
Congressman Walter B. Jones (R- NC):
“I would like to thank Don Young for his leadership and continued focus on this important issue. American consumers have a right to know if they’re a eating a wild caught fish or somebody’s science project,” said Congressman Jones.
Congressman Peter DaFazio (D-OR):
“Healthy, wild salmon runs are critically important to the environment, to our fishermen and to consumers across the globe,” DeFazio said. “That’s why it would be incredibly short-sighted and dangerous for the FDA to allow some biotechnology company to tamper with the natural order by creating genetically engineered salmon. It would only be a matter of time before these Frankenfish mix in with the wild salmon population, destroy the species and wreak havoc on our fishing industry.”
Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA):
“We need to keep genetically engineered salmon out of our oceans, rivers and streams—and off of our dinner plates. GE salmon pose a danger to our wild salmon population, the ecosystems they live in and our commercial fisheries, and the PEGASUS Act is an important step towards protection of our families and coastal communities.”
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.
In 2012, the FDA published a draft Environmental Assessment for GE salmon holding that the product is unlikely to cause significant effects on the environment and is safe to eat. However, although the public comment period ended on this controversial assessment two years ago, the FDA has not announced their final decision.
For bill text of H.R. 394, please click here.
For bill text of H.R. 393, please click here.