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Murkowski asks FDA for ‘frankenfish’ guarantees

By MJ Thim 8:07 PM March 13, 2014

FDA on Capitol Hill explaining budget needs

ANCHORAGE – The Food and Drug Administration was on Capitol Hill Thursday explaining its budget needs for the upcoming fiscal year when U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski switched the topic to “frankenfish.”

The FDA is considering the approval of the world’s first genetically modified fish, salmon. The nickname “frankenfish” has stuck.

Alaska’s congressional delegation is not in support of the FDA approval for the fish to be available for people to eat. Murkowski told the FDA during the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing that she doesn’t believe it’s done adequate research on the environmental, economical and health impacts of the fish.

She asked for two guarantees from the FDA during the hearing.

“Can you assure me the FDA is prepared to deny approval of the sale of GE salmon to the consumers if your agency cannot determine if it’s safe to eat?” Murkowski asked.

“If we could guarantee it wasn’t safe to eat, then it would not pass our approval standards,” replied Margaret Hamburg, director of the FDA.

The other guarantee Murkowski asked for was labeling the fish if the FDA did approve it so people would know what kind of fish they were eating. Hamburg didn’t answer the question.

AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based biotech firm, produced the genetically modified salmon and has been fighting for FDA approval since 1996.

The FDA released a preliminary report in 2012 supporting the salmon and asking for public input before making a final decision.

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