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Preventing ‘Frankenfish’ from landing on your dinner table

Senator Patty Murray is among those who do not support FDA approval of genetically-altered fish. They're concerned about what that would do to the natural fish caught in the Pacific and landing at places like Pike Place Market. (Linda Thomas photo)

Seattle is a city where ocean-caught fish are thrown at Pike Place Market daily and fresh seafood from the Pacific can be found in most grocery stores.

Councilmembers want to keep it that way. They voted unanimously today to approve a resolution opposing the genetically-engineered fish critics call “Frankenfish.” Salmon that have been genetically engineered grow twice as fast as their natural counterparts.

The Food and Drug Administration says they’re safe. It issued a statement several months ago saying genetically-altered fish do not pose a threat to the environment and are “as safe as conventional Atlantic salmon.”

Food-safety activists, environmental groups and traditional salmon-fishing industries oppose the super salmon saying they have concerns that the new fish could cause allergic reactions in some people.

Others worry that if the fish escaped from farms they could destroy the wild salmon populations.

On a national level, several lawmakers from the Northwest have concerns about the fish.
Alaska Senator Mark Begich has said, “The notion that consuming Frankenfish is safe for the public and our oceans is a joke.”

Alaska Representative Don Young is even more direct, saying recently, “You keep those damn fish out of my waters. It will ruin what I think is one of the finest products in the world.”

Washington’s Patty Murray is behind legislation to “seek a more comprehensive environmental review of this and other genetically engineered fish, and require labeling of any such products sold in the U.S. so consumers are aware of what is on their dinner plates.”

The engineered fish are part of a broader debate over the consumption of genetically modified foods.

Initiative 522 seeks to require labeling of GMOs – genetically modified organisms.


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