Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124

04/11/2005 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
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Moved Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
SB  25-GENETICALLY MODIFIED FISH                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  SAMUELS  announced that  the  final  order of  business                                                               
would be  SENATE BILL  NO. 25  "An Act  relating to  labeling and                                                               
identification of genetically modified fish and fish products."                                                                 
PAULA  CADIENTE,  Staff  to  Senator   Kim  Elton,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  presented SB  25  on behalf  of  Senator Elton  and                                                               
Senator Gary  Stevens, co-sponsors.   She said the  bill requires                                                               
modified finfish or shellfish sold  in Alaska to be identified on                                                               
the  label at  the  retail level.   These  fish  are also  called                                                               
"FrankenFish,"   she  noted.     Currently,   a  glow-in-the-dark                                                               
aquarium fish  is the only  genetically modified fish  allowed to                                                               
be sold  in the United  States, she  said, but an  application is                                                               
pending  before  the  Food  and  Drug  Administration  (FDA)  for                                                               
genetically farmed fish for human consumption.                                                                                  
MS. CADIENTE  said Atlantic salmon  are expected to be  the first                                                               
species slated  for genetic modification,  she noted,  and others                                                               
would likely follow.  A United  States and Canadian firm wants to                                                               
introduce a genetically modified salmon to be sold worldwide.                                                                   
The allure  of fast  growing fish  is economically  enticing, she                                                               
stated,  and  it  is  important  for  Alaska  consumers  to  make                                                               
informed choices.   Required labeling allows  marketers of Alaska                                                               
seafood to  "draw a bright  line" between natural, wild  fish and                                                               
industrial fish.                                                                                                                
1:12:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked about page 4,  line 5, of SB  25.  He                                                               
said  he understands  the  intent, but  the  term "not  possible"                                                               
should be  exchanged with  "highly unlikely."   A court  case may                                                               
find a single case of it occurring in nature.                                                                                   
MS. CADIENTE answered, "I think  that 'not possible under natural                                                               
conditions' just means not done in the laboratory."                                                                             
ALICE  OTTOSON-MCKEEN, Middle-School  Student,  Juneau, said  she                                                               
was in favor of SB 25.  She  declared that she wants to know what                                                               
she is  eating.   Genetically-modified fish  have high  levels of                                                               
mercury and  don't taste good, she  added.  The FDA's  failure to                                                               
require  labeling of  genetically modified  foods is  effectively                                                               
restricting  Americans  from  exercising a  right,  and  subjects                                                               
individuals to foods they have sound  reasons to avoid.  "Why not                                                               
label them?" she asked.  She  said everyone wants to know what is                                                               
in their food.                                                                                                                  
1:16:08 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY MCCUNE,  United Fisherman of Alaska,  Juneau, noted today's                                                               
Anchorage  Daily News  and New  York Times,  which reported  that                                                           
retailers  and distributors  don't  know  the difference  between                                                               
farmed and wild  fish.  He said it is  in the consumer's interest                                                               
to have labeling laws, so people know what they are buying.                                                                     
1:17:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON moved  to report  SB 25  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual recommendations  and accompanying  fiscal notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, SB  25 was  reported out of  the House                                                               
Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

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