Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124

03/16/2005 08:30 AM FISHERIES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
Moved Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
SB  25-GENETICALLY MODIFIED FISH                                                                                              
8:34:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  SENATE  BILL  NO.  25,  "An  Act  relating  to  labeling  and                                                               
identification of genetically modified fish and fish products."                                                                 
8:34:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIM ELTON,  Alaska State Legislature, presented  SB 25 to                                                               
the  committee on  behalf of  himself and  Senator Gary  Stevens,                                                               
bill cosponsors.   He explained that the bill was  a work product                                                               
of the  [Joint Legislative  Salmon Industry  Task Force],  and it                                                               
was introduced  at the end of  last session, but didn't  pass out                                                               
of committee.   He noted that this session's version  of the bill                                                               
is in the exact same form as last year's version.  He said:                                                                     
     What it  does is it provides  that genetically modified                                                                    
     [GM] fish that  are sold in the State of  Alaska at the                                                                    
     retail level will have to be  [labeled] that it is a GM                                                                    
     fish.  ...  The  other  name for  them  is  Frankenfish                                                                    
     because  it  involves  a modification  at  the  genetic                                                                    
     level that can't occur naturally.   At present there is                                                                    
     only  one   GM  ...  fish   that  is  allowed   in  the                                                                    
     marketplace,  and that's  a glow  in the  dark aquarium                                                                    
     fish, but there  is an application pending  in front of                                                                    
     the [U.S. Food  and Drug Association (FDA)]  for GM ...                                                                    
     Atlantic  salmon.   There  is  a U.S./Canadian  company                                                                    
     that  right now  is  working to  establish some  salmon                                                                    
     farms  in Nova  Scotia [carrying  GM Atlantic  salmon].                                                                    
     They  would put  the Atlantic  salmon not  only to  the                                                                    
     marketplace   but  they   would  distribute   the  eggs                                                                    
     worldwide to other ... industrial  salmon farms.  There                                                                    
     isn't an awful lot that Alaska  can do when it comes to                                                                    
     regulating  the global  trade in  [GM]  fish, but  what                                                                    
     this bill  does is provide  if those GM ...  finfish or                                                                    
     shellfish  are sold  in  Alaska,  the Alaska  consumers                                                                    
     will  know  what  they're  buying.    It  also  has  an                                                                    
     ancillary benefit  that it provides a  very bright line                                                                    
     between Alaska's wild  salmon and industrially produced                                                                    
     Atlantic salmon.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  ELTON noted  that  Aqua Bounty  was  quoted recently  as                                                               
saying that  they expect to get  a permit for GM  Atlantic salmon                                                               
within the next year.                                                                                                           
8:37:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  read  from the  sponsor  statement  which                                                               
stated  that   the  European  Union,  Japan,   New  Zealand,  and                                                               
Australia  already   require  labeling  on  food   containing  GM                                                               
products.   She commented  that it was  really important  for the                                                               
[Alaska legislature] to pass this bill.                                                                                         
SENATOR  ELTON noted  that those  countries make  the distinction                                                               
between  GM and  non-GM on  vegetable products,  but not  on fish                                                               
products  yet.   He  said,  "At its  heart  this  is a  consumer-                                                               
notification bill."                                                                                                             
8:38:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS pointed  out that both finfish  and shellfish are                                                               
named on  page 4,  line 4, but  the title only  says "fish."   He                                                               
asked if both should be included in the title.                                                                                  
SENATOR ELTON responded, "I think  in statute elsewhere 'fish' is                                                               
... a kind of umbrella term."                                                                                                   
8:39:44 AM                                                                                                                    
DENNIS KELSO,  Ph.D., Assistant Professor,  Environmental Studies                                                               
Department,  University of  California, Santa  Cruz, stated  that                                                               
his research  is on  the impacts  of salmon  farming on  the wild                                                               
salmon sector,  particularly in Alaska,  and on  the implications                                                               
of  genetically engineered  fish in  commercial aquaculture.   He                                                               
     I  believe   this  is  an  important   consumer  choice                                                                    
     opportunity.   Fish  are  subject to  a  great deal  of                                                                    
     research right  now with respect to  making genetically                                                                    
     engineered versions.   And the  reason is  that they're                                                                    
     relatively  easy  to  work  with;  they  have  a  short                                                                    
     generation time,  the eggs are easy  to manipulate, and                                                                    
     so there are a number  of species that are being worked                                                                    
     with. ...  The one that's currently  proposed for [FDA]                                                                    
     approval  ...  is   Atlantic  salmon  that's  basically                                                                    
     constructed from  genetic material taken  from Atlantic                                                                    
     salmon, from the ocean pout  ... and king salmon, which                                                                    
     supplies growth hormone  DNA.  The claim  of the owners                                                                    
     of the patent  on this fish is that it  will reduce the                                                                    
     production  time  for  Atlantic  salmon  in  commercial                                                                    
     salmon farms  by roughly half,  the idea being  that it                                                                    
     would reduce the  producers cost and allow  them to put                                                                    
     more Atlantic fish  on the market faster.   So the bill                                                                    
     before  you actually  provides  consumers  a choice  by                                                                    
     informing  them   so  that  they  know   what  kind  of                                                                    
     production methods they're  actually supporting through                                                                    
     their purchases.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  asked Dr.  Kelso to  leave his  address so                                                               
that her office could contact him later.                                                                                        
8:43:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX closed public testimony.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON moved  to report  SB 25  out of  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
notes.  There  being no objection, SB 25 was  reported from House                                                               
Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                                                 

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