FDA lifts import ban on "Frankenfish" salmon

On March 8, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted an import ban on genetically engineered salmon. The manufacturer of “AquAdvantage Salmon” intends to transport engineered salmon eggs to a facility in Indiana where the fish will mature. The fish are a combination of genes from Chinook, Atlantic salmon and an eel-like fish that will grow twice as fast as other farmed salmon.

The entry of “frankenfish” into U.S. markets is a threat to Alaska’s salmon fisheries, the environment, and seafood consumers. Alaska fishermen harvest healthy, high quality wild salmon in clear, pristine waters and take pride in providing families across the nation with a sustainable and delicious protein source. It is unlikely that farmed salmon producers will clearly label frankenfish. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for genetically engineered foods allow producers to use codes or 1-800 numbers rather than disclose risks to consumers on the label.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski has repeated expressed concerns about genetically engineered fish and challenged imports of genetically engineered salmon without clear labeling guidelines. In a press release Senator Murkowski issued the following statement in response to the FDA’s action:

“I’m extremely disappointed in the FDA’s short-sighted decision. It is wrong-headed and a bad idea, simple as that. I am not going to back down and will continue my fight to ensure that any salmon product that is genetically engineered be clearly labeled,” said Senator Murkowski. “USDA’s new guidelines don’t require adequate mandatory labeling and don’t suffice as giving consumers clear information. Instead, they will only confuse people. I continue to have serious concerns about splicing DNA from two animals to produce a new marketable fish, essentially creating a new species. America consumers deserve to know what they are purchasing, and ultimately eating.”