The requirement that genetically-modified salmon be labeled as such cleared a significant hurdle Thursday. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Murkowski-Begich amendment during debate of the agriculture spending bill for FY 2015.
The FDA has been considering the approval of Aqua-Bounty’s genetically modified Atlantic salmon for a couple of years, and both of Alaska’s senators have been trying to put up roadblocks in an attempt to stave off that approval. If it does get approval, the Murkowski-Begich amendment will require it to be labeled as a genetically modified food.
“I still maintain that the FDA should not allow for genetically-engineered salmon to advance, but if they should move forward with that wrongheaded approach, at a bare minimum the consumer deserves to know that that is not a true wild salmon.”
Senator Jeff Merkly, a Democrat from Oregon, agreed with Murkowski during the agriculture bill debate in committee:
“Whether we look at this from the viewpoint of a citizens right to know what they’re buying, or we look at it from the viewpoint of ensuring a healthy industry that’s so important to our states, this amendment is right on. Absolutely 100 percent right on. And if you buy salmon, you should buy 100 percent salmon.”
Appropriations Committee Chair Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, also agreed:
“If something is genetically, a GMO food, we ought to know what it is. I don’t want to eat a Dolly-burger and I don’t want to eat a Frankenfish.”
Mikulski called a voice vote on the Murkowski-Begich amendment, which passed with only one dissenter. It will now go to the Senate floor as part of the agriculture spending bill.
This is not the first time an amendment requiring labeling for GM foods has passed. Last year it was approved by the full Senate, but was stripped from the bill during conference committee wrangling with the U.S. House as the two bodies tried to reconcile their respective agriculture spending bills.