FDA bans GE salmon imports

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration forbade all genetically engineered salmon from entering the U.S. marketplace on Jan. 29. The ban applies only to fiscal year 2016.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been pushing for labeling requirement for genetically engineered salmon, even threatening to withhold the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf as chief until something is done. She said in a release she hopes the FDA’s import ban is a harbinger for action.

“This is a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish’. I adamantly oppose the FDA’s misguided decision to allow GE salmon to be placed in our kitchens and on our tables, and I firmly believe that mandatory labeling guidelines must be put in place as soon as possible so consumers know what it is they are purchasing,” said Murkowski. “It seems that the FDA has begun to listen, and I hope this is a sign that the agency plans to develop these necessary guidelines.”

"During FY16 the FDA shall not allow the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food that contains genetically engineered salmon," the mandate reads, "until FDA publishes final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of such content."

The mandate promises guidelines only; Alaska's Congressional delegates want a clearly defined requirement to label all genetically engineered salmon.

The FDA approved genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, but Alaska politicians doubt the science and fear the economic consequences. Alaska fishermen’s wild caught sockeye will have to compete with genetically altered fish, which splice salmon and ocean pout genes to grow at twice the rate of wild salmon.

Last year’s omnibus package included language that orders the FDA to not allow the genetically engineered salmon into the market until the FDA publishes final labeling guidelines. Currently, the FDA allows for voluntary labeling of genetically modified fish, but does not require it.


Murkowski and others say the FDA should require that genetically modified salmon be labeled as such; customers, they say, won’t be able to tell the difference between genetically modified salmon and wild salmon if laid beside each other on a retail rack. 

DJ Summers can be reached at [email protected]

01/29/2016 - 9:12am