On December 21st, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the first genetically-engineered animal ever approaching approval for public consumption — a hybrid Chinook Salmon-Pouty — has been declared to have “no significant impact” on the environment. As of the 21st, the FDA’s tentative approval of this GMO salmon, called “Frankenfish” by its many detractors, entered a 60-day public comment period.
In Alaska, home of a high percentage of the world’s remaining wild salmon, and a state where fish farming has been banned since 1989, the state’s three national legislators quickly responded to the FDA decision. Most colorful, Republican Representative Don Young quipped:
“You keep those damn fish out of my waters. It will ruin what I think is one of the finest products in the world,” (Congressman Don) Young said in an interview, saying he fears that the spread of fish farms could eventually contaminate the wild salmon industry in Alaska. He wants to force delays in any FDA approval.
“If I can keep this up long enough, I can break that company,” he said, referring to AquaBounty, “and I admit that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski put out a press release and video:
Kenai River angler Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was railing against ”Frankenfish” again on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave a green flag to long-running efforts to produce bigger, faster-growing, genetically modified salmon. Murkowski, backed by Alaska fishing organizations, has repeatedly tried to stop such approval by tying the agency up in red tape.
She previously tried, but failed, to get the Senate to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) be intimately involved in the process. She said again and again she thought a more thorough scientific review of the biotechnology was in order. But she sort of let slip on Friday that the demand for better science was really more of a smokescreen for efforts to simply kill the idea.
In a video released by her office outlining her renewed opposition, she stated flatly, “I just don’t believe that these fish should be approved.”
And Alaska’s junior Senator, Democrat Mark Begich denounced the FDA plan: