U.S. House of Representatives Passes Amendment to Prohibit Approval of Genetically-Engineered Salmon

Written by Max Goldberg on June 22, 2011. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

Very quietly last week, we got some positive news on the genetically-engineered (GE) salmon front.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that prohibits the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from using any of its FY2012 funding to approve GE-salmon.

The amendment, which was put forth by Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), is part of the appropriations bill entitled The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2112). It passed by a 217-203 vote.

As it stands now, the FDA, instead of the USDA, has the legal power to approve all genetically-engineered animals through its new animal drug law. Yet, industry experts have a real problem with the way that the FDA handles the approval process.

“We need a robust regulatory system that assesses the full suite of economic, human health, environmental and animal welfare risks posed GE-animals and allows for full and open public participation,” said Colin O’Neil, Regulatory Policy Analyst for The Center for Food Safety.

Small Victory

This is a small victory for the many, many people who absolutely do not want GE-salmon. This includes the:

– 67 businesses and organizations who endorsed this amendment.

– More than 40 members of Congress who sent letters in September of 2010 requesting that FDA halt the approval of the long-shelved AquaBounty transgenic salmon.

– More than 300 environmental, consumer, health, and animal welfare organizations, along with salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants signed joint letters to the FDA opposing the approval of AquaBounty’s GE-salmon.

– Approximately 400,000 public comments were sent to FDA from citizens demanding the agency reject this application and require mandatory labeling of this transgenic salmon should it decide to approve it.

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of The Center for Food Safety said “We thank members of the House for stepping in to correct FDA’s misguided decision to go ahead with this approval process which fails to take into account a plethora of economic, human health, environmental and animal welfare concerns. Any decision to approve GE-salmon would be a continuation of the Obama Administration’s illogical biotech bailout at the expense of American jobs and our fishing economy.”

Next Steps

With the passing of this amendment, it now goes to the Senate where they must vote on their own version of this bill.

Once that happens, then both the House and Senate have to approve a joint bill, which will then go to President Obama for his signature.

Overall, this amendment is a very positive step. The approval of GE-salmon is absolutely not what the world needs or wants, and the long-term consequences for the environment will be disastrous.

I will keep you posted as this issue continues to develop.

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If this is your first time hearing about genetically-engineered salmon or you want to learn more about it, please watch this informative video.

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