“The Bill of a Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act (S 1528, 115th Congress) should not be adopted, for several compelling reasons:
“First, this bill, sponsored by the Alaska delegation, is a transparent act of pandering to a vocal constituency in Alaska, the salmon fishers. Effectively, the bill aims to bar the marketing of a product that is perceived as competitive. Yet, anyone who shops for fish will know that salmon products are differentiated by species, as wild or cultured, and by region. For example, wild Alaskan sockeye salmon commands a higher price than cultured Chilean Atlantic salmon. The argument that GE salmon might escape and compete with Alaskan salmon is without merit, as all GE salmon will be produced under strict confinement, and far from Alaska. The real issue facing the Alaskan salmon fishers is the low dockside price for salmon, a consequence of the abundance of salmon in the fishery. Interference with the marketing of a similar product will have little or no effect on that problem. The Alaskan Congressional delegation seeks to be seen to be doing something for a small segment of the electorate.
“Second, the GE salmon is safe as food. Results of a wide range of analyses were publically reported in 2010 (https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm472487.htm), and the upshot is that products of GE salmon are indistinguishable from those of conventionally bred salmon.
“Third, the US FDA requires that the GE salmon are produced under stated “conditions of use”, that is, production of all-female, triploid fish under conditions of physical and geographic confinement. The fish cannot escape, and if they could, would not be able to persist or establish an invasive population. Hence, they are environmentally safe.
“Fourth, the US FDA is an agency of qualified professionals. It is capable of executing its science-based work and should do so without political interference from non-scientists in the Congress. That this bill singles out a particular product speaks directly to the point that it is political in nature.”
“It should be understood that wild-caught Pacific salmon from Alaska are marketed as such in order to obtain a premium price relative to cultured Atlantic salmon. It should be further noted that no Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) has ever successfully mated with any of the Pacific salmon species (Oncorhynchus spp.) as they are different genera, and so fears that sterile, female Atlantic salmon housed in a contained facility in the highlands of Panama will escape, migrate to the ocean, and then traverse thousands of miles across tropical seas and interbreed with wild Alaskan Pacific salmon are scientifically unfounded… Requiring that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authorize yet another study to consider the impact of genetically engineered salmon on wild salmon ecosystems (as outlined by S 1528) and review the FDA’s environmental assessment and subsequent approval for human consumption of AquAdvantage salmon is further evidence of political interference and stalling of the science-based work of the FDA. It is imperative that the United States stay the course it has set in not letting politics interfere with its science-based regulatory system. If the United States fails to provide a regulatory path to market for beneficial biotechnologies, research and development of these innovations will move to countries with more predictable policy environments.”