US Senate to vote on bill to label GMO salmon
Ethan A. Huff
A rider attached to a federal funding bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would make it mandatory for sellers of genetically-modified (GMO) salmon to label the product as such in the interest of transparency and consumer confidence.
With overwhelming support, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed that American consumers deserve the right to know whether or not they’re buying the GMO salmon product as opposed to natural farmed or wild salmon. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who proposed the labeling provision, says it only make sense for AquaBounty’s “AquAdvantage” salmon to have a clear designation on grocery store shelves.
“It would be the first time a genetically engineered animal, species, is approved for human consumption,” she stated, noting that Alaskan salmon is currently considered the “best in the world,” and that protecting its integrity and reputation with proper labeling is crucial.
A House vote on the USDA/FDA bill with the included rider is expected as early as next week, and proponents say they’re hopeful for its swift passage. No matter how “safe” the manufacturer of GMO salmon claims its product to be, consumers have a right to know what they’re purchasing and feeding their families.
Coming at the same time as a national vote on state and local GMO labeling, Sen. Murkowski clarified that GMO salmon is exceptionally threatening as salmon are living creatures that move about and spread their traits. GMO crops do the same thing, of course, but salmon are even more mobile.
“Corn doesn’t swim from field to field and propagate with other corn,” stated Sen. Murkowski. “Fish move.”
Nothing “natural” about GMO salmon
House Resolution 1599, a.k.a. the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015,” recently passed the House by an overwhelming majority. The controversial bill, which has been dubbed the “DARK” Act due to its provisions outlawing local and state GMO labeling legislation, interferes with Alaska’s efforts to label GMO salmon.
This “Deny Americans the Right to Know” legislation essentially nullifies all existing and future GMO labeling laws at the state and local levels, including those already passed in Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, and elsewhere.
As explained by Scott C. Tips from the National Health Federation, the DARK Act, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by Barack Obama, will:
1) Preempt all state and local laws governing the production and sale of GMO crops, in addition to GMO labeling.
2) Eliminate all “GMO-Free” zones throughout the U.S.
3) Shift the burden of labeling onto non-GMO and organic food producers.
4) Allow all dairy products manufactured from animals fed GMO feed or feed developed using GMO aids and enzymes, to be labeled as “non-GMO.”
5) And perhaps most importantly, allow companies to make “natural” claims about their GMO-containing products.
There’s absolutely nothing natural about GMO food products, no matter how they’re developed. Allowing them to be labeled as such will only further confuse consumers and put them at risk of developing health problems from inadvertent consumption of GMO products deceptively labeled as “natural.”
“Although touted as a means of ending a ‘confusing patchwork’ of GMO labeling laws, the DARK Act is really nothing more than camouflage for the removal of Americans’ right to know what is in their food and drink,” writes Tips about this agricultural violence.
“The Act ends the ‘confusing patchwork’ in the same way that Attila the Hun ended the ‘confusing patchwork’ of tribes in his sweeping path: He just annihilated them. We need real GMO labeling so that we can all make informed food choices.”
Be sure to contact your Senators and the White House and urge them to vote NO on HR 1599, a.k.a. the DARK Act: