Anti-GM salmon senator could use “wrecking” bill to block sale of AquAdvantage fish

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Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is an opponent of AquaBounty, to throw another spanner in the works in the US GM salmon industry. 

The Wall Street Journal writes in a piece called “Murkowski’s Fishy Rider” that Ms. Murkowski will use her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee this week to slip a rider into a farm spending bill that continues to block the sale of genetically modified salmon.

Riders – otherwise known as “wrecking” or “poison pill” bills – are used as a tactic intended to gain the enactment of a controversial bill that would probably not pass if introduced on its own.

Murkowski’s target is AquaBounty, the biotech company that can grow salmon at twice the speed. In January, the Alaskan Republican Senator reintroduced the Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act, to ensure that any salmon that is genetically engineered be clearly labelled.

In June, AquaBounty began commercial production at its Indiana facility in the United States. The eggs were shipped to the U.S. from the company’s Canadian location in May after clearing final regulatory hurdles.

But now, the WST reports that Ms. Murkowski is planning to put a rider in that would require “a label comprehension study” before fish can be sold. “Such reviews are usually reserved for pharmaceutical drugs, can take years, and in this case would require the destruction of AquaBounty’s fish, as well as many jobs,” the publication added.

Murkowski is a long-time strong supporter of Alaska’s fishing industry. Wild salmon processors Trident Seafoods are among the top contributors to her campaign, according to opensecrets,which tracks money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.

A spokesperson for AquaBounty emailed SalmonBusiness with the following statement:

“We are hopeful that Congress and the Administration will allow the important innovations represented by our AquAdvantage Salmon to thrive consistent with the Federal policies with which we’ve complied, and will not enact a rider ban that harms American jobs and innovation. Our FDA-approved bioengineered salmon provide a sustainable, nutritious and tasty food source that benefits the environment as well as the consumer, and helps mitigate against overfishing. Developing a robust domestic aquaculture industry based on sound science and innovative technologies is important for our nation’s future food security”.