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Begich to Reintroduce Legislation Banning “Frankenfish”

Address to Marine Science Symposium includes legislative priority

Recognizing the harm that could be done to Alaska’s wild salmon stock and fishing industry, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today announced he will reintroduce his legislation to ban genetically-engineered salmon. Speaking to the Marine Science Symposium at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Begich said one of his top priorities this Congress is legislation to stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving the sale of genetically-engineered (GE) fish for human consumption.

“Many call them “Frankenfish” for good reasons: a monster that threatens our wild stocks and their habitat, our food safety, and economic harm to Alaska wild salmon fishermen,” Begich told the symposium.

In November, Begich introduced legislation to stop the FDA from approving GE fish as the federal agency is considering a proposal for the product from AquaBounty Technologies. A second piece of legislation, should the FDA approve the GE fish, would require labeling of such a product. As is common when bills don’t pass in one Congressional session, they are introduced the next session.

“Alaska was right to ban finfish farming years ago and now the nation needs to “just say no” to Frankenfish. I will introduce legislation next week to do just that,” Begich said. “At the very least, any genetically-engineered fish has to be labeled. If the FDA approves Frankenfish, it should be clear to the public what’s in the package.”

At the science symposium, composed of ocean researchers and students from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, Begich said he is also looking for more progress in Arctic research as Alaskans are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change on the diminishing Arctic icepack, coastal erosion, thawing permafrost and the impacts on Arctic people and animals.

As the Arctic is attracting new activity and investment in oil and gas exploration, shipping, fishing and tourism, Begich said he will also reintroduce his package of Arctic legislation that addresses the need to understand baseline Arctic marine ecosystems, and puts heavy emphasis on research into oil spill prevention and response.

The first day senators can introduce legislation in the 112th Congress is Jan. 25.

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