Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program, today welcomed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s announcement that it is extending for 60 days the comment period for people to weigh in on the FDA’s controversial move to open the door for Frankenfish to enter the nation’s food supply. The comment period, originally slated to end on Feb. 25 now runs until April 26. TU encourages anyone who cares about wild salmon and the integrity of food to contact the FDA and tell the agency not to move forward with approving Frankenfish. Frankenfish are genetically engineered Atlantic salmon. In a draft environmental assessment in December, the FDA concluded that Frankenfish are safe for human consumption, opening the door to final approval. Many of Alaskans, including the state’s congressional delegation, oppose the FDA’s stance on Frankenfish because of the numerous threats they pose to wild salmon. One of the major concerns is that genetically engineered salmon could interbreed with wild salmon and wreak havoc on wild stocks. Alaska is one of the largest salmon-producing regions in the world. In Southeast Alaska alone, more than 7,300 jobs are directly tied to salmon fishing and processing, a $1 billion a year industry for the region.
Last week, Alaska’s senators co-sponsored two bills against Frankenfish. One would make it illegal to sell, possess, transport or purchase genetically engineered salmon in the United States unless and until the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determines there is no harmful impact on the environment. The other bill challenges the FDA’s position against labeling Frankenfish. If enacted, the legislation would require that Frankenfish be clearly labeled and identified so that consumers can know what they’re eating.
“Alaska has been supplying the world with nutritious salmon for decades,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK.) “We cannot afford to experiment with the world’s largest wild salmon stocks without the certainty that these fake fish won’t pose a serious environmental risk, especially to wild salmon and their habitat.”
The bills aim to prevent against “science experiments ending up on the plates of Alaska families,” according to Begich.
“The Friday before Christmas, the Food and Drug Administration announced they were moving forward with the approval process on Frankenfish by opening the comment period – this at a time when everyone understandably has their mind on the holidays and the Congress is in a transition period,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK.) “Despite those hurdles, I am proud that my Coastal Coalition in the Senate and those fighting along with us – like the Alaskans in Sitka last weekend – have raised our voices and outrage to a level where the FDA relented and is giving us more time to further lay out the case against GE salmon.”
Some one hundred people gathered in Sitka last weekend to protest the FDA’s move toward approving Frankenfish, according to public radio station KCAW. (Listen to a news story about it.) The rally was organized by Sitka Conservation Society.
To submit public comment, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Or write to Division of Dockets Management (HFA–305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm.1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
Thanks to Senators Begich and Murkowski for standing up for wild salmon.