Senator Lisa Murkowski today filed an amendment to require a comprehensive analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of genetically-engineered fish by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The legislation would mean the same NOAA analysis and standards in place for federal fisheries would be required before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves genetically-modified salmon.
The FDA is presently evaluating the scientific and biological risks of so-called "Frankenfish" -- but the agency is not required to evaluate how a worst-case scenario of fish escaping into the ocean ecosystem could adversely impact the seafood industry. Senator Murkowski's amendment (attached) would require NOAA's research staff to prepare a review of potential drawbacks of genetically-engineered salmon becoming a reality, using the public review process Alaska's fishermen are used to.
"We need to look before we leap here, and make that a long hard look," Murkowski said. "This means that we not only make sure that genetically-engineered salmon is healthy to put in our bodies and doesn't endanger our fishery resources, but also that it is healthy to our coastal environments and economies. Alaska produces over half of the nation's seafood, and constructing fish in a lab is a science experiment that adds a new variable to the equation -- we need to fill in all the blanks before we put Frankenfish on our plates."
Senator Murkowski's legislation has been co-sponsored by Senators Begich, Cantwell (D-WA), Leahy (D-VT), Merkley (D-OR) and Sanders (I-VT).