February 7, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 6

Assembly speaks out against genetically engineered salmon

The Petersburg Borough Assembly spoke out against genetically engineered salmon by way of a resolution during its regular meeting Monday afternoon.

Resolution 2013-2 opposes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's preliminary finding of no significant effect on the quality of the human environment in the U.S. with approval of AquaBounty Technologies, Inc's application to market genetically modified Atlantic salmon in the United States.

“In councils past we have sent resolutions not supporting this modified salmon,” Petersburg Borough Assembly Mayor Mark Jensen said. “The State legislature is saying the same thing basically and Senator Lisa Murkowski is looking for a three-month extension on this application so there will be more public comment on it.”

Petersburg Borough Assembly member John Hoag asked if there were any scientific reasons for the opposition at this time.

“I know we get nervous when something that isn't natural gets released into the water but is there some science behind the objections to these fish,” Hoag asked.

Jensen explained what was happening with the modified fish.

“They are planning to take a gene from a King salmon and making the fish grow twice as fast,” Jensen said. “They are going to do it in Canada and have them flown to South America somewhere and they claim there is no way they can be introduced into our environment but I feel that is a tool in order to move the permit process forward for AquaBounty.”

Another member of the Assembly, Nancy Strand had a personal opposition to this process.

“This is the first thing with a face that they are trying to experiment on and I think it should be stopped,” Strand stated. “They started with corn and it just doesn't sit well with me.”

A main concern is that genetically engineered salmon could possibly be introduced in the wild.

“The FDA has approved the production of this salmon and they don't have to label it as modified,” Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht stated. “Not only can it be sold, but it can be sold as authentic Atlantic salmon. That is one of the biggest issues.”

Giesbrecht also explained that this company wants to license this process and sell the process. That makes it possible for this fish to be released in the wild and no one knows what affect that would have on the native King salmon population.

“This will also hit our local economy hard regarding pricing,” Giesbrecht said. “There is also a big environmental concern as well.”

The resolution was passed unanimously by the Assembly.

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