GM salmon singled out in new US bill

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“Senator Murkowski continues to single out a small, innovative, American company in a misguided attempt to protect a parochial special interest when, in reality, the rider most benefits Chilean and Norwegian companies that currently export more Atlantic salmon to the U.S. than any American company produces,” writes GM salmon farmer AquaBounty.

US Lawmakers released the details on Monday of a bipartisan USD 49 billion spending deal for the federal government during the next nine months.

“Genetically engineered”
Buried in the 1,773-page domestic spending package document was a win for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, with a bill that would ensure that biotech salmon must be labeled as “genetically engineered,” something that isn’t required for other foods under the 2016 biotech disclosure law, reports AgriPulse.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s sneak attack on the U.S. GM salmon industry paid off. PHOTO: Wikipedia

“Poison pill”
Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski, who is an opponent of AquaBounty, had used her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee in November 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.

This also means that Ms. Murkowski is planning to put a rider in that would require “a label comprehension study” before fish can be sold.

The GM salmon farmer – with produces small quantities of AquAdvantage Salmon at its Indiana facility, USA, which are bioengineered to grow to market size in about half the time of a traditional farmed Atlantic salmon – wrote a press release in response.

Vague new language
“AquaBounty has always supported clear, transparent labeling of our bioengineered salmon, even before federal disclosure requirements were put in place, and while this new language will finally allow us to commercialize our FDA-approved bioengineered salmon, we believe it is completely unnecessary.

“Moving forward, we will work with the FDA and USDA on how to comply with this vague new language, which was inserted by Senator Lisa Murkowski as an appropriations rider. Senator Murkowski continues to single out a small, innovative, American company in a misguided attempt to protect a parochial special interest when, in reality, the rider most benefits Chilean and Norwegian companies that currently export more Atlantic salmon to the U.S. than any American company produces.

“Because AquaBounty’s salmon is safe and identical to other farm-raised Atlantic Salmon, this provision sets a dangerous precedent for all bioengineered foods because it was passed as an appropriations rider, yet has nothing to do with funding, and it imposes a mandate that targets a single company and product and calls into question the regulatory process and federal disclosure requirements,” it wrote.