Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

02/08/2005 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
01:31:09 PM Start
01:32:58 PM SB67
02:30:08 PM Overview by Greg O’claray, Commissioner, Department of Labor and Workforce Development
02:57:34 PM SB52
03:02:49 PM SB25
03:26:29 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Commissioner Greg O'Claray
Department of Labor & Workforce
Development: Update on Training Programs
For Alaskans in Oil/Gas/Mining Industries
Moved CSSB 52(L&C) Out of Committee
Moved SB 25 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
                SB  25-GENETICALLY MODIFIED FISH                                                                            
3:02:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE announced SB 25 to be up for consideration.                                                                         
SENATOR KIM ELTON,  co-sponsor, said it provides  that genetically                                                              
modified organism  (GMO) fish and shellfish are  identified on the                                                              
label. Two companies  are trying to use GMO fish  in fish farming,                                                              
which would become  available for human consumption.  The only GMO                                                              
fish  in the  market currently  are designed  for aquariums.  Aqua                                                              
Bounty, a  Canadian firm, has an  application in front of  the FDA                                                              
and  is pursuing  the  opportunity  to produce  the  fish in  Nova                                                              
Scotian salmon farms.                                                                                                           
3:05:11 PM                                                                                                                    
Alaska has  an opportunity  to provide  for consumer  notification                                                              
at the retail level  by labeling. "It will allow  the marketers of                                                              
Alaskan seafood  to draw  a bright line  between wild  and natural                                                              
and industrially produced fish and shellfish."                                                                                  
3:06:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE  asked if it's  assumed that  all GMO fish  are farmed                                                              
3:06:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  answered that  it is  possible to  have a  wild GMO                                                              
fish due  to escapement from  farms. It's  a question of  when. He                                                              
said the only GMO fish are in laboratories at present.                                                                          
3:07:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DALE KELLY,  Executive Director, Alaska  Trollers Association,                                                              
supported  SB  25.  She  read  a   prepared  statement  about  how                                                              
labeling food is  part of a growing health trend.  Farmed Atlantic                                                              
salmon  could  become  the  first   approved  GMO  animal  product                                                              
available for human consumption.                                                                                                
3:09:19 PM                                                                                                                    
She said  there are  over 100  million acres  biotech foods  under                                                              
cultivation. GMO  salmon convert  food to energy  more efficiently                                                              
than  wild  and it  could  mean  better  profits for  farmers  and                                                              
cheaper prices for  consumers. Proponents say it is  a way to feed                                                              
the growing world  population; but, she wondered, will  it harm us                                                              
and  are there  hidden costs.  She said  that antibiotics,  growth                                                              
hormones,  coloring   additives  and  genes  that   make  products                                                              
undesirable to nuisance  pests are possible changes  that could be                                                              
added.  Without labeling,  it would  be  hard to  tell GMO  salmon                                                              
from real  fish at the  seafood counter  and people won't  know to                                                              
3:12:48 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KELLY  said a lack  of data is  often sited and  the following                                                              
concerns are echoed repeatedly.                                                                                                 
   1. There  could  be   an  enhanced   genetic  availability   of                                                              
     transgenic fish to absorb environmental toxins, such as                                                                    
     mercury, which causes nerve damage.                                                                                        
   2. There is an increased risk of unsafe chemical  or biological                                                              
     agents entering the food chain through genetically modified                                                                
   3. There is  an increased  risk  of  allergic reaction  due  to                                                              
     ingestion of unknown substances.                                                                                           
   4. GMO  molecules  used   to   enhance   traits  could   retain                                                              
     bioactivity after consumption.                                                                                             
   5. There is evidence of antibiotic resistance.                                                                               
   6. Potential generation of prions,  disease producing  proteins                                                              
     is feared - (mad cow disease).                                                                                             
   7. GMO foods might violate some  religious or  cultural dietary                                                              
   8. There is a  lack  of regulation  and  enforcement of  animal                                                              
     biotechnology due to a lack of ethical and regulatory                                                                      
   9. The responsibilities  of  federal  regulatory  agencies  for                                                              
     regulating animal biotechnology and data collection are                                                                    
     unclear and there is no oversight of scientific research                                                                   
     and the commercial application of biotechnology.                                                                           
3:15:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  KELLY   said  she   understands  there   are  at   least  six                                                              
generations  of GMO  salmon in  the  lab in  Canada. She  admitted                                                              
that  it is  fair  to say  the  GMO fish  could  be beneficial  to                                                              
nutritional attributes in some cases.                                                                                           
     However,  the National  Academy  of Science  has  stated                                                                   
     this  can only  be true,  'If the  changed products  are                                                                   
     labeled  in order to  appeal to  targeted consumers  and                                                                   
     are  identifiable to  those  who might  have medical  or                                                                   
     other reasons to avoid such foods.'                                                                                        
She closed by urging the committee again to pass SB 25.                                                                         
3:16:48 PM                                                                                                                    
DENNIS  KELSO, University  of  California,  Santa  Cruz, said  his                                                              
research is  on the impacts of  salmon farming on  Alaska's salmon                                                              
industry  and  on  the  effects  of  them  being  introduced  into                                                              
commercial markets.                                                                                                             
3:17:24 PM                                                                                                                    
He asked why this matters to Alaska and answered:                                                                               
   1. Informed consumers recognize quality of products.                                                                         
   2. Consumers expect access to information about what's in food                                                               
     they eat.                                                                                                                  
   3. Besides the Atlantic salmon that are probably going to be                                                                 
     the first GMO fish to be approved for human consumption,                                                                   
     there are other GMO fish and shellfish that are in various                                                                 
     stages of laboratory development - more than a dozen.                                                                      
3:21:45 PM                                                                                                                    
He  said the  trade  secrets exemption  applies  to  the cases  in                                                              
Canada and  it is not known  where the transgenic  Atlantic salmon                                                              
are in  their review, but  the owner of  its patent  will probably                                                              
market them  actively. The controversy  comes up in  the potential                                                              
increase  in production  of  Atlantic  salmon and  concerns  about                                                              
impacts on  wild salmon  from escapes. This  is an opportune  time                                                              
to consider what Alaskans value and accept in the marketplace.                                                                  
3:23:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BUNDE  said  this  will not  keep  people  who  base  their                                                              
purchase  on color,  availability  and  price from  buying  farmed                                                              
3:23:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELTON agreed  -  people make  buying  decisions for  many                                                              
different reasons, but  for a growing number of people  there is a                                                              
question of whether or not they want to purchase GM fish.                                                                       
3:25:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS   moved  to  pass  SB  25  from   committee  with                                                              
individual  recommendations. Senators  Ellis, Davis, Ben  Stevens,                                                              
Seekins  and  Chair  Bunde  voted   yea;  and  SB  25  moved  from                                                              

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