GMO salmon have been a point of contention for a while now as the FDA sits on the issue. But California is taking major steps to keep so-called frankenfish out of their neck of the woods.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill banning the commercial production of GMO salmon in California waters in an effort to protect native species.
AB 504 will protect California’s native chinook and coho salmon species, like those prevalent in San Francisco’s Humboldt Bay. The salmon are already dealing a crippling drought, according to the bill’s author Wesley Chesbro of Arcata, and GMO salmon could destroy native populations.
“I thank Governor Brown for understanding the importance of protecting California wild salmon and steelhead from the threat of transgenic modification,” said Chesbro to EcoWatch. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing an application by a company that seeks to produce a farmed salmon in the United States that has been genetically altered to grow faster than native salmon. If these ‘frankenfish’ were to escape into our waters, they could destroy our native salmonid populations through interbreeding, competition for food and the introduction of parasites and disease. The only way to ensure this never happens is to ban commercial hatchery production, cultivation or stocking of transgenic salmonids in California.”
The bill extends to the Pacific Ocean and all waters in the state while banning GMO hatchery production.
“California has taken has taken an important step to protect its native salmon and trout stocks,” west coast director for The Center for Food Safety, Rebecca Spector said to EcoWatch. “Genetically engineered salmon pose a serious risk to our waterways and our native fish populations. This bill expands a 2003 law to include all waterways within the state of California. Unfortunately it opens a loophole for research that could lead to dangerous fish escapes.”
The one downside is that the bill does allow for GMO salmon and trout to be grown for research in tanks right by the waterway. And in the event of a storm, the tanks could be wiped out allowing the fish to escape.
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Image: Melissa Doroquez