Lisa Murkowski Frankenfish
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[Lisa Murkowski Frankenfish]
[SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-Alaska Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chair):] Source: LYBIO.net
Mr. President – Mr. President, I have come to the floor this afternoon to speak on an energy-related topic – one that I think you and many will have interest in and that is the issue of innovation within the energy sector. But before I – before I speak on energy, I would like to bring up an issue that has just come about today with the announcement coming out of the Food and Drug Administration that they have approved an application for what they have called an AquAdvantage salmon.
[SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI:]
And this is actually quite disturbing news to any of us that care about our wild species of salmon, our wild stocks, our healthy wild stocks, who are proponents of good amounts of fresh seafood in our diets, knowing that nutritionally it is a pretty extraordinary source of omega-3’s, fatty acids, and just good-for-you nutrients.
[SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI:] Source: LYBIO.net
We have been trying to get the FDA to make good on their commitment to make sure that pregnant women and nursing mothers know and understand the guidelines out there in terms of what is safe to consume when it comes to fish because, again, if you’re looking for those – that good nutritious food source, it is pretty tough to beat Mother Nature here. And yet, that is exactly what this approval from the FDA is trying to do is effectively not only trying to beat Mother Nature but messing with Mother Nature.
And for those of us again, who believe that the real thing is the best thing for our families, the best thing to serve at the dinner table, I find it very, very troubling. In fact, I’m spitting mad today. I have calmed down a lot since I received this news this morning, but I can tell you people back home are going to be mad about this for a long time. For about 5 years now, the FDA has been considering this application for this genetically engineered salmon.
Again, they are giving it a pretty nice name, calling it the AquAdvantage, that somehow or other this gives an advantage to the salmon. Well, it does. What it does is, it allow this genetically engineered fish, I don’t even know that I want to call it a fish, this genetically engineered organism to grow twice as fast as any other salmon in the water there. So how does it get to grow twice as fast? Well, it doesn’t happen naturally. It is not the way that Mother Nature orders it.
What you do is you start messing with it. And what this process is that has now been approved by the FDA, is a process that splices genetic material from a Chinook salmon, a king salmon, and it takes that genetic material and it integrates it with a pout fish and an Atlantic salmon. So, you might know that an Atlantic salmon, a farmed salmon. What’s an ocean pout? Let me show my colleagues what an ocean pout is.
An ocean pout is basically this eel-type of bottom fish. Those of you who know their salmon that know your Chinooks and your sockeyes, and your chums, and know that this isn’t anything close to a salmon, whether it is a wild Alaskan salmon or whether it is a farmed salmon. This is an eel. And we’re taking a splice from this, and we are taking a splice from an Atlantic salmon, and we are basically splicing this with a Chinook salmon. And the resulting organism, this company claims, is going to grow to the size of an Alaskan king salmon in a shorter period of time than that found in nature. Freaky!
We call this combination “Frankenfish” because it’s just not right. It’s just not right. And it disturbs me, quite honestly, Mr. President that the FDA would sign off on this. FDA approval of a genetically engineered animal designed for human consumption. This is the first time ever. And the FDA is saying this is going to be safe: We are going to make sure it’s safe. We are going to make sure that it doesn’t interbreed with the wild stocks, and thus perhaps destroy them. We are going to make sure that it doesn’t mix with them so that it doesn’t transmit disease.
We are going to make sure that it is separated so that it doesn’t eat up all of the food sources for our wild Alaskan salmon. We are going to make sure and they’re going to make sure apparently by doing this, because they are saying that with this approval, these AquAdvantage salmon can only be raised in land-based, contained hatchery tanks in two specific facilities in Canada and in Panama. We should all feel safer, I guess, because it is only going to be in Canada and Panama. There are no other locations under this application in the United States or elsewhere that are authorized to do this.
Somehow or other, the FDA says they are going to maintain regulatory oversight over the production and the facilities, and they are going to conduct inspections to confirm that adequate physical containment measures remain in place. And they’re going to be working with the Canadian and Panamanian governments to be conducting inspections. Really?
Do I feel safer about making sure that our wild and healthy stocks are going to be not infiltrated by the Frankenfish, by these genetically engineered organisms designed for human consumption, designed to grow twice as fast to get to the size of it – a king salmon, so that a company can, I guess, derive the benefit of selling more of this fish.
[SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI:] Source: LYBIO.net
Well, I am saying, Mr. President, FDA should never have approved this, never have approved this. The fact is that the Alaska delegation as well as members of other delegations in this body and on the other side have pounded their fists for quite some time against this measure through the FDA. They know full well how much we object to it. 7:55 last night my assistant got an email from the FDA saying that commissioner would like to talk to me about some imminent news. By the time the morning came around, the imminent news was already made public. Alaskans were already aware that this approval from FDA had come forth.
Not only me; it’s my understanding that the head of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee, I met with him yesterday, didn’t get a heads-up about it. The nominee was before us yesterday in the HELP Committee, and I actually had a question – had two questions to him about seafood. No heads-up that this was coming our way, just kind of, boom, lay it on the table. And I have to tell you, we have made no bones about the fact that this is wrong not only for Alaska and our wild stocks, it is wrong for our salmon stocks around the country, and it is something I am going to continue the fight.
I am not sure, Mr. President, as we deal with this news today. I am not sure if we can get the FDA to reverse this. I am going to keep working on it. But at a bare minimum, people around this country need to know what they are serving their families when it comes to seafood. And if this is going to be allowed into the markets, if it is going to be allowed on restaurant menus, then it needs to be labeled as such. Now, the FDA has said that there will be draft guidance on voluntary labeling indicating whether food has or has not been derived from GE Atlantic salmon.
So, basically, they’re saying, okay if you guys want to put a label on that says this is a fake fish, a fake salmon, you can go ahead, but you don’t have to. It is only voluntary. That is not good enough for this mom. That is not good enough for most, who care about what their families are eating.
[SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI:] Source: LYBIO.net
So we are going to continue to press for mandatory labeling if the FDA is going to approve, wrong headedly in my mind, this genetically engineered fake fish and they are going to approve it for human consumption, then they darn well better agree that labeling will be required because I am sure not going to eat it.
Lisa Murkowski Frankenfish. The Food & Drug Administration that they have approved an application for what they have called an AquaAdvantage Salmon. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.