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UPDATE: Bill Seeking Ban on GM Fish Advances for Further Deliberation

February 9, 2016, 12:39 PM HST (Updated February 10, 2016, 3:01 PM) · 11 Comments
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Rep. Kaniela Ing.

Rep. Kaniela Ing.

The House Committee of Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiians Affairs, chaired by Rep. Kaniela Ing, heard a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit propagating, cultivating, or farming genetically engineered fish in state marine waters.

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, following the hearing, Rep. Ing commented on the legislation saying, “Commercial fishers, not anti-gmo activists, requested that this bill be heard.  They were less concerned about the acute health effects of GM salmon, than the possibility of them escaping, breeding with local fish, out-competing native species, and becoming an invasive species that could our marine ecosystems.”

Ing continued saying, “We have exposed holes in our permitting processes that leave the possibility of escape open.  When it comes to our precious and fragile marine resources, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I have moved this measure onto the Agriculture committee for further deliberation.”

In November 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved AquAdvatage salmon, the first genetically engineered fish in the US, for sale and consumption. The fish, sometimes called “Frankenfish” by concerned members of the public, combines genes from an “ocean pout” which contains anti-freeze properties with conventional salmon, so that the salmon can grow across seasons and reach maturity much more rapidly.

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The FDA approval capped a long struggle for AquaBounty Technologies, which first approached the FDA for approval in the 1990s. The agency made its initial determination more than five years ago. The approval has been fiercely opposed by some consumer and environmental groups, which have argued that the safety studies were inadequate and that wild salmon populations might be affected if the engineered fish were to escape into the oceans and rivers. In addition, California has already banned genetically modified fish. Environmental groups and commercial fishermen are expected to testify.

“While the bill language is broad, we are focusing on salmon produced for commercial sale in light of the FDA approval of AquAdvantage salmon,” Rep. Ing said in a press release statement.

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