Two amendments added to the Senate agriculture appropriations bill on Thursday deal with horse slaughter and genetically modified salmon.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced an amendment during the full committee markup that would ban horse slaughter, calling it both a health and a budget issue.
“We should not be stretching already tight budgets … to inspect horse slaughter plants,” she said. “These are animals that are not consumed for domestic production … Without this amendment, funds would be diverted from inspection of food that Americans do eat to finance an industry that sells its entire product to foreign consumers.”
Landrieu added that even when horse meat is consumed, there are concerns about “bute” (Phenylbutazone) contamination.
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) argued that a ban leads to a decline in the animals’ welfare and that even if horse slaughter is banned within the United States, the animals would still be shipped to neighboring countries for slaughter “where we have no control whatsoever over whether these horses are slaughtered in a humane way.”
Landrieu countered that, “USDA statistics show that 92 percent — contrary to the testimony put on the record — of all horses sent to slaughter are in good condition. They’re not sick; they’re not aged. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be having a problem.”
The amendment ultimately passed 18-12.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced an amendment to require that genetically engineered salmon be labeled.
“We’re not talking about genetically engineered corn or something else that is grown; we are talking about a species that moves, that migrates, that breeds,” she said. “This is an experiment … that, if it went wrong, could be devastating … to the wild, healthy stocks.”
She referred to the amendment as telling FDA that, “if you move forward with … a wrong-headed decision to allow for the first time ever this genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, then, at a bare minimum, you’ve got to stick the label on it that says so.”
Concerned that the safety of GE salmon is not a “100-percent guarantee,” Murkowski said, “I want to send a strong signal to FDA that I don’t think we should be moving forward with this.”
Johannes called her amendment “yet another attempt with another product to frighten people.”
“The Senate overwhelmingly voted down a similar amendment regarding GMO food labeling when we considered the farm bill last summer,” he said. “Furthermore, language appropriating funds to label genetically modified salmon was not included in the omnibus appropriations bill signed into law earlier this year.”
Murkowski’s amendment was agreed to by a voice vote.
Full committee markup of the House agriculture appropriations bill is expected to take place next week.© Food Safety News