Politicians struggle to put brakes on genetically altered fish

The latest move by politicians to limit or ban the sale of genetically modified fish has been stymied.

A U.S. Senate bill, which would have prohibited the sale of genetically engineered salmon unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could find the fish would cause no significant environmental harm, was withdrawn from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee late last week.

It’s just one of many such bills proposed in the last two years that haven’t gotten any traction.

A bill advanced in the California Assembly, requiring the labeling of all genetically engineered fish sold in the state, was struck down in January by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
A U.S. Senate amendment that would have required rigorous environmental testing of the salmon failed in May on a 46-50 vote.

In this latest case, “we withdrew it because we knew it wasn’t going to pass,” said Julie Hasquet, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who sponsored the bill.

“But he’s never going to stop trying to prohibit the sale and production of these fish,” Hasquet said. “He’ll be coming back at it.”

Some politicians and environmentalists worry that there is too little known about the health and environmental impacts of these animals to allow full-scale production. Several studies have found reasons for concern, including one in July 2011 that showed engineered salmon could breed with wild salmon – despite biotechnology company AquaBounty Technologies’ claim that they can’t.

Environmentalists worry that if the engineered salmon were to somehow get loose and breed with wild salmon, they’d threaten natural salmon populations.

Calls and emails to AquaBounty, based in Massachusetts, were not returned.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/07/4704402/politicians-struggle-to-put-brakes.html#storylink=cpy