Senator Mark Begich held a call-in for Alaska media Monday discussing some recent happenings in his office.
Begich says representatives from Massachusetts- based AquaBounty will be visiting his office next week. He says the company- which is currently applying for approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell genetically-engineered fish in the U.S. – wasn’t impressed with his recent Halloween campaign preaching the anti-Frankenfish gospel. While denouncing genetically-engineered fish to his Capitol Hill colleagues, Begich handed out buttons emblazoned with a finned skeleton resembling something uglier than a Kodiak rockfish. Begich says there are other avenues AquaBounty can take that exclude the engineering of salmon, though he’s not sure what they are.
— (Begich 1 :53 "Yeah, I’m gonna let them figure that … because they poorly managed it.")
Begich has introduced the PEGASUS act which essentially makes it illegal to transport genetically-engineered fish across state lines or sell it to foreign markets.
During the call Begich also talked about a $3.8 million appropriation that would drive an overhaul of the U.S. North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program. The program trains and dispatches obsevers to live on fishing vessels while gathering samples and collecting data on what the crew is catching and how they operate. Alaska is the only participating state that doesn’t receive federal money to pay for the program. Without the money the restructuring, which is tentatively scheduled for 2013, could be held up a few years.
— (Begich 2 :47 "We get criticism … so that’s good."
Begich says an act that would empower tribal governments to address domestic crimes looks promising.
— (Begich 3 :30 "Last week we were able to… continue to move that bill forward."
Begich expressed some frustration during the Monday morning call-in that the House and Senate had been slow in finding a way to fund government operations past this coming Friday. According to the Washington Post, a $182 billion measure was announced later that afternoon. The money will fund operations at the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and NASA. The measure also included stopgap spending legislation fund government through December 16th.