NEWS: Feds Approve “Frankenfish” Despite Widespread Opposition and Unacceptable Risks to Alaska’s Abundant Wild Salmon Resource

FDA Fails to Adequately Study the Long-Term Health Impacts of Eating Genetically Modified Fish

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2015

ANCHORAGE – Today, the Food and Drug Administration, for the first time ever, approved the human consumption of a genetically modified animal.  The FDA approved AquaBounty Technologies application to raise a genetically modified fast growing Atlantic salmon despite widespread concerns about the health risks to humans and negative impacts to wild salmon populations.

“The FDA’s action is another dangerous step into a new world of genetically modified foods,” said Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage).  “The FDA ignored the concerns that these Frankenfish will negatively impact the markets for Alaska’s abundant wild salmon.  These fish will be created in Canada, raised in South America, and sold in the U.S.  At some point a Frankenfish could escape into the wild.  Because of human intervention these fish could possibly out compete wild salmon.  That’s an unacceptable risk.  I for one don’t want to eat a fish that goes from the laboratory to the factory and then to the plate.”

In 2013 Rep. Tarr sponsored House Joint Resolution 5 opposing allowing genetically modified fish to be sold for human consumption.  The resolution, which was cosponsored by Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks), passed the Alaska House and Senate without opposition. 

“Alaska’s wild salmon supports thousands of jobs and feeds millions of people across the globe,” said Rep. Kawasaki.  “The FDA is risking this sustainable resource so a company can make a profit by selling a product that would not and could not exist in nature.  I strongly support protecting people over the gross profits of a few corporations.”

This year over 263 million salmon were harvested commercially in Alaska, which was the second largest salmon harvest on record.  The largest salmon fishery in the world is in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.  Last month the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the 2016 forecast, which anticipates a return of over 46.5 million sockeye salmon.  This year the total sockeye run to Bristol Bay was 58 million fish.

“Alaska protects and preserves our salmon resource, which is why we have thriving commercial, sport and subsistence salmon fisheries that are second to none worldwide,” said Rep. Kawasaki.  “I don’t agree with the FDA’s Frankenfish decision.  The risk to our wild salmon is just too great.”

To date, over 60 retailers, including several large grocery store chains, have pledged not to sell genetically modified fish.  Additionally, 60 countries impose severe restrictions or outright bans on genetically modified foods.  In Alaska genetically modified foods can be sold but thanks to legislation passed by the Alaska Legislature they must be properly labeled.

“Increasingly the United States is the international outlier when it comes to genetically modified foods because the federal government is embracing the concept while much of the rest of the world is rejecting it,” said Rep. Tarr.  “Labeling is critical and I’m glad we require labeling of Frankenfish sold in Alaska.  As more and more genetically modified foods are considered we must have good labeling laws because people demand to know what’s in their food.” 

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