U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has introduced a bill (H.R. 6325) that would require labeling for food that contains genetically engineered (GE) animal products. The Consumer Right to Know Food Labeling Act of 2010 would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and Meat Inspection Act to compel the disclosure of product ingredients derived from cloned animals or their progeny. It would also mandate labeling for food products that contain GE salmon. In addition to providing for civil penalties and citizen suits in the event of misbranded food, the bill would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop and implement a recordkeeping audit trail applicable to “any person that prepares, stores, handles, or distributes a cloned product for retail sale.”
“A recent Food & Water Watch survey revealed that 78 percent of Americans do not want genetically-engineered salmon to be approved and made available in stores and restaurants,” DeLauro said in a recent press release. “Because the FDA is treating these genetically-modified salmon not as a food issue but as an animal drug issue, current regulations would leave the consumers unable to discern between these new modified salmon and traditional salmon. If FDA approves the genetically-modified salmon the American public deserves to know about the truth about their food, and this legislation will ensure that they are provided with this critical information.” See DeLauro Press Release, September 29, 2010.
Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) has introduced legislation (H.R. 6265) to prevent FDA from approving GE fish altogether. The bill would revise the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to deem any GE fish unsafe, “notwithstanding any other provision of this section.”
“There are serious health and environmental impacts that a genetically-modified fish could create,” Young was quoted as saying. “The FDA is treating this hearing process as an animal drug issue, which means it will not adequately address how this product will affect humans when consumed or how it might affect wild fish stocks if accidentally exposed.” See Alaska Business Monthly, September 30, 2010.
In a related development, Food & Water Watch has stepped up its campaign to block FDA approval for the first GE fish variety, a product known as AquAdvantage® salmon that contains both Chinook and ocean pout genes to promote faster maturation. The consumer watchdog has asked for donations to fund its efforts to (i) “gather 50,000 comments to the FDA by November 22nd, opposing the approval of GE salmon, and requiring the labeling of this salmon as genetically engineered, if it’s approved”; (ii) “send organizers to key congressional districts to build support for legislation that will ban GE salmon”; and (iii) “distribute hundreds of action toolkits to folks like you who can gather actions in their local community.” The organization has called the crusade one of its most important “because once frankenfish are introduced, they cannot be taken back.”