Alaska’s U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) have introduced two new bills as part of their ongoing campaign to prevent the federal government from allowing the sale of genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Information about related legislative proposals they sponsored in January 2011 appears in Issue 380 of this Update.

One new proposal (S. 1717) would make it unlawful for anyone to “ship, transport, offer for sale, sell, or purchase genetically altered salmon or other marine fish, or a product containing genetically altered salmon or other marine fish, in interstate or foreign commerce.” The other proposal (S.A. 751), offered as an amendment to a House appropriations bill (H.R. 2112), would preclude the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from spending any funds to approve an application for the approval of GE fish. One such application is pending before the agency.

According to Begich, “There is just too much at risk here. The public has expressed serious concerns about the introduction of Frankenfish into the nation’s food supply, including potential threats to the environment and public health, and economic impacts on producers of sustainable wild salmon.” Echoing his concerns, Murkowski said, “Frankenfish could pose serious risks to wild populations of many fish. While these modified fish are supposed to be sterile, 5 percent of the fish could remain fertile, and escaped stock could breed with wild stocks, introducing hazardous mutations to a currently healthy and hygienic wild stock.” See Senator Mark Begich Press Release, October 17, 2011.