Just two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, it appears that it’s taken a step backward – though perhaps this is actually a step forward for consumers. This past Friday, the FDA issued a ban on the import and sale of AquAdvantage salmon, produced by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty, until the agency can publish guidelines for how it should be labeled.
A large federal spending bill was recently passed by Congress which contained language that instructed regulators to forbid the sale of GE salmon until the agency finalizes labeling guidelines – a process that potentially could take years.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had pushed for specified language in an omnibus spending bill on Capitol Hill, directing the FDA to prevent the AquaBounty salmon from reaching the U.S. market until regulators finalized labeling guidelines. An FDA spokeswoman said Friday’s import alert was a response to that directive,, adding that the agency “intends to fully comply with the language” in the bill.
“This is a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish,’ ” Murkowski said in a statement Friday, using the derisive nickname critics use to refer to the genetically altered fish. “I firmly believe that mandatory labeling guidelines must be put in place as soon as possible so consumers know what it is they are purchasing. It seems that the FDA has begun to listen, and I hope this is a sign that the agency plans to develop these necessary guidelines.”
Consumers hope so too. This is a good step forward.