An amendment to the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill introduced passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee last week. It would require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is the originator of the amendment, and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) is the sponsor. This is the second year the Committee has passed a GE fish labeling amendment.
Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “the food movement scored another major win today with the passage of Senator Murkowski’s amendment to require the labeling of genetically engineered salmon. While some Members of Congress are peddling corporate-backed legislation to keep consumers in the dark, today’s vote is an indicator that support for labeling is not slowing down.”
When the FDA allowed public comments on the proposal to allow AquaBounty, the corporation that is behind the genetically modified fish, almost 2 million comments were posted opposing this approval. Many retailers, including Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger, and Safeway, have said they will not sell GE food if it comes to the market. And 64 countries require labeling of GE and GMO foods, including Australia, the EU, Japan, and China. The U.S. is not among them.
Problems with the genetically engineered salmon have ranged from the company not pulling the required permits to missing documents and “lost” fish. Food safety advocates and consumer groups are concerned that these modified salmon will escape into the wild and out compete wild salmon for food and resources.
In addition, the fish contain genes from other fish, mice, coral, bacteria, and people, raising questions about allergic reactions. More than 2 million farm-raised fish escape into the wild every year. Aquabounty claims the GE salmon are sterile, but experts think that up to 5% could be fertile. If they reproduce in the wild, that could mean the end of wild salmon.