Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 5:19 PM on Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Alaska senators introduce ban on 'Frankenfish'

By Jonathan Grass
Morris News Service - Alaska

U.S. Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, formally reintroduced legislation to the 112th Congress to ban genetically engineered salmon.

The senators included a companion bill that would require labeling the fish as such in the event they are allowed on the shelves.

Such salmon, which have been dubbed "Frankenfish," were proposed by Aqua- Bounty Technologies and are currently under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration.

AquaBounty proposes to produce a hybrid Atlantic salmon modified with a chinook salmon growth gene and an antifreeze gene from an ocean pout.

"Frankenfish threatens our wild stocks, their habitat, our food safety, and would bring economic harm to Alaska's wild salmon fishermen," Begich said in a press release.

"Genetically modified salmon, the first such hybrid to be considered for human consumption, is risky, unprecedented and unnecessary."

"I am strongly opposed to the FDA approval of genetically engineered salmon. It is completely irresponsible for the FDA to even consider this action without evaluating the impacts on Alaska's wild salmon fisheries," Murkowski stated in a release.

"The FDA has not studied the environmental effects, let alone the economic impacts on the salmon and seafood markets that would result from approval."

They originally entered the bill during the last congressional session with Begich sponsoring and Murkowski co-sponsoring. The session ended before the bill could be decided.

"We're going to keep trying," said Begich's press secretary, Julie Hasquet.

"We weren't going to give up just because the session ended."