SEATTLE — News that Congress might force the labeling of genetically engineered salmon was welcome news to people in Seattle's salmon fishing industry Thursday. A measure to require labeling was added to the congressional omnibus spending bill set for a vote on Friday.
"It's fantastic," said Paula Cassidy, owner of Wild Salmon Seafood Market in Fisherman's Terminal. "It needs to be done."
Cassidy has been pushing to make sure you know whether the fish you buy is wild or engineered ever since the Food and Drug Administration approved AquaAdvantage genetically modified salmon in November.
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"Many emails from various petitions looking for us to support the labeling of GMO (genetically modified organism) salmon," said Cassidy. "Which we have done."
The FDA determined that the genetically engineered salmon wasn't materially different from the wild salmon. So it ruled it doesn't need to be labeled, but Congress can force the labeling.
The engineered fish are altered with genetic material from a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout. The modified salmon grow twice as fast. Major grocers like Costco, Haggen, Safeway, and Kroger have already said they won't sell it.
Democratic Washington U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has pushed for labeling the genetically engineered salmon. On Thursday her office told KIRO 7 it has not been met with much resistance and she expects it to pass with the spending bill.
The following is a statement from Senator Cantwell:
“Consumers have a right to know whether they are buying Washington’s world-class wild salmon or Frankenfish engineered in a lab. The FDA’s genetically engineered salmon decision is bad for consumers and potentially bad for our environment. There’s bipartisan support to pass the bill requiring the FDA to develop clear and transparent labeling requirements for genetically engineered salmon. As we move forward, I will work with the FDA to make sure this new labeling program gives consumers the information they need to be informed ”