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Murkowski approves: Judge rules genetically engineered fish unlawful

“The FDA did not… meaningfully analyze what might happen to normal salmon in the event the...
“The FDA did not… meaningfully analyze what might happen to normal salmon in the event the engineered salmon did survive and establish themselves in the wild,” Vince Bhhabria, a United States District Judge wrote in an order released Thursday.(KFYR-TV)
Published: Nov. 7, 2020 at 5:01 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -A U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California ruled Thursday the Food and Drug Administration violated core environmental laws in approving genetically engineered or G.E. salmon.

“The FDA did not… meaningfully analyze what might happen to normal salmon in the event the engineered salmon did survive and establish themselves in the wild. Even if this scenario was unlikely, the FDA was still required to assess the consequences of it coming to pass.” Vince Bhhabria, a United States District Judge wrote in an order released Thursday.

“The impacts that genetically engineered salmon could have on Alaskans, our commercial fishing industry, and seafood consumers all over the world are concerning, and, as this ruling found, understudied. Yesterday’s court ruling is welcome news,” Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a press release. “It confirms the FDA’s decision to allow G.E. salmon to be produced in different locations across North America was in violation of the law, and did not consider the potential for severe consequences on nature’s best brain food – wild salmon.”

Some potential consequences, according to the ruling, included the risk of a genetically engineered fish being released into the natural environment. Some fear the new species could threaten wild fish populations by mating with endangered salmon species, outcompeting them for food and bringing new diseases into the wild.

According to AquaBounty, the biotechnology company that breeds G.E. salmon, it’s a myth that farm raised salmon can escape and breed with native populations.

“AquaBounty Atlantic Salmon are raised in land-based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems in the heartland of America. This protects against interactions between the farmed salmon and the external environment and eliminates impact on wild populations, helping them thrive.” AquaBounty wrote on their website.

In the 116th Congress, Senator Murkowski introduced the Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act to ensure that any G.E. salmon products in the U.S. market are clearly labeled “genetically engineered” in the market name. In the year-end Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, Senator Murkowski secured a provision which requires the market name of any genetically engineered product approved prior to the effective date of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard to include the term “genetically engineered.”

“I have introduced legislation for years identifying these exact flaws within FDA’s wholly inadequate assessment of the threat G.E. salmon poses to wild salmon stocks. I’m glad the court has caught up with my reasoning and recognized the concerns raised by many Alaskans about G.E. salmon.” Murkowski stated in a press release.

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