Legislators have under consideration House Joint Resolution 12, urging Congress to enact legislation to require prominent labeling of genetically engineers products with the words “genetically modified” on packaging of the product.
HJR 12, sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, is currently before the House Special Committee on Fisheries.
A copy of the resolution is online at http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/30/Bills/HJR012A.PDF
Tarr notes in her sponsor statement that Alaska prides itself in producing the highest quality wild seafood, and that the commercial fishing industry is the largest private sector employer in the state, with seafood exports valued at over $3.25 billion annually. Residents also stock their freezers and smoke houses in Alaska with healthy wild seafood, she said.
“This industry and way of life would be jeopardized with the inevitable, accidental release of transgenic fish into the wild, Tarr said.
“HJR 12 is designed to raise awareness about the importance of wild seafood and the commercial fishing industry while highlighting the concerns regarding the long term safety of consuming genetically engineered food products,” she said.
Also coming up before the House Special Committee on Fisheries on March 7 will be public testimony on HB 76, the Mariculture Revolving Loan Fund, and HB 128, Shellfish Enhance, projects; hatcheries, a measure related to management of enhanced stocks of shellfish. United Fishermen of Alaska also supports HJR 12.
In a letter to the House Special Committee on Fisheries, UFA President Jerry McCune, and Mark Vinsel, executive administrator, said that UFA is on record with the FDA in opposition to approval of genetically modified salmon for production and consumption in the U.S. and that UFA has strongly requested that FDA regulations require that any genetically modified salmon or other seafood products be clearly labeled as such.
“We are very concerned that if genetically modified salmon is allowed to be sold in the U.S. at all, or not labeled clearly, Alaska fishermen and coastal communities will suffer job losses and economic hardship due to consumer confusion about the wholesomeness of salmon in general,” they said.
UFA is an umbrella organization representing 34 Alaska commercial fishing organizations and hundreds of individual fishermen and related businesses.