A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration not to dismiss congressional opposition to the approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon.
House and Senate lawmakers each sent separate letters to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg Friday urging the agency to not approve the fast-growing GE fish, primarily over economic and environmental concerns. The House approved an amendment by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) last month that would bar the FDA from spending money to approve an application for the controversial salmon.
In their letter, senators from key salmon states told Hamburg they have drafted a similar amendment to be introduced in the Senate.
“Given the strong and growing congressional opposition to the approval of GE fish in both chambers, spending time on further review of GE fish would be a waste of taxpayer dollars,” reads the letter.
“FDA hasn’t considered all of the potential negative impacts of genetically-altered fish and the strong opposition in Congress to approving something that could decimate wild salmon populations,” said Sen. Begich (D-AK) in a statement Friday. “Recent scientific evidence shows that if genetically-modified salmon escape, they could successfully breed with wild stocks, potentially destroying the genetic adaptations that have allowed fish to thrive for millennia. Alaska wild salmon is abundant and sustainable.
“We don’t need Frankenfish threatening our fish populations and the coastal communities that rely on them,” added Begich.
AquaBounty, the company that developed the salmon technology, insists the salmon pose no threat to human health and will be kept out of wild salmon populations; and an FDA assessment last September concluded the salmon is safe to eat and will not harm the environment. But many consumer groups and much of the seafood industry remain staunchly opposed to the idea.
Senators Begich, Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Patty Murray (D-WA) signed the letter from the upper chamber.
Around a dozen House lawmakers joined Representatives Young and Woolsey on the House side.