Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120
02/23/2012 05:00 PM FISHERIES
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HB 100-BAN CULTIVATION OF GENETICALLY MOD. FISH 5:05:43 PM CHAIR THOMPSON announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 100, "An Act prohibiting growing or cultivating genetically modified fish in the state." 5:06:29 PM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI, as the prime sponsor of the bill, introduced HB 100 and offered some background on the bill. He explained that proposed HB 100 was "an act prohibiting the growth and cultivating of genetically modified or enhanced fish in the State of Alaska." He pointed out that genetically modified fish had become an increasing problem, with the potential for it to be considered as a food. He referred to earlier testimony objecting to the cross of king salmon and ocean pout, as the potential damage was unknown. He explained that the proposed bill would prohibit the growing and cultivating of any genetically modified fish in the State of Alaska, in order to protect the wild stock of salmon and the natural way of life in Alaska. He pointed to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) marketing efforts for wild, untainted fish. 5:08:54 PM MINDY O'NEALL, Staff, Representative Scott Kawasaki, Alaska State Legislature, explaining the concern for genetically modified fish, presented a video, available on YouTube, titled "Stop Frankenfish." 5:11:49 PM MS. O'NEALL said that Alaska had already taken some steps to prevent this practice in the state. She pointed out that modified fish had to label as such in Alaska. 5:12:30 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON asked about the reproductive capacity of the Frankenfish. MS. O'NEALL replied that, according to the producers, the modified fish were all female and were 98 percent sterile. 5:13:21 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON, noting that the proposed bill did not allow growing or cultivating of the modified fish in Alaska, asked if they could be imported. MS. O'NEALL replied that she did not have any information about that. 5:14:02 PM REPRESENTATIVE MILLER questioned whether there were concerns for possession, sales, or sneaking them in. MS. O'NEALL agreed that these were all potential concerns as the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) had not yet ruled on genetically modified fish; however, the sale of any of these fish in Alaska required its being labeled. REPRESENTATIVE MILLER asked for specifics on live fish. MS. O'NEALL, in response, reported that although farmed fish were released into wild Alaskan streams every year, there was a concern that genetically modified fish could also be introduced into the wild streams. 5:15:49 PM CHAIR THOMPSON asked if other countries were raising genetically modified fish. MS. O'NEALL replied that other countries were even more hesitant and stringent than the U.S. She pointed out that the U.S. was the first country to request regulations for production of genetically modified fish. 5:16:37 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON asked if the FDA should be studying the use of genetically modified fish as a food additive. MS. O'NEALL directed attention to a recent article which called for the FDA to change the specification for genetically modified fish, in order to make the evaluation process more public. 5:17:55 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON clarified that classification as a food additive required closer scrutiny by the FDA. 5:18:16 PM REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN, directing attention to page 2, line 3 of proposed HB 100, pointed out that AS 17.20.040 had two definitions for genetically modified fish. He suggested a need for a clarification of the definition in the proposed bill. CHAIR THOMPSON opened public testimony. 5:20:44 PM PAUL SHADURA II, Member, Kenai Peninsula Fishermen's Association (KPFA), testified that KPFA was in support of proposed HB 100. He declared that it was "extremely important to have the state go on record with their interest in protecting the natural resources to the highest degree." He expressed concern that, as the sterility factor was not 100 percent, there was a threat to native fish species. He offered his belief that genetically modified fish should be classified as an invasive species, and needed to comply with the current regulations. He referenced the escape of farmed fish from British Columbia, and cited concern for the introduction of virus and disease to Alaska's wild salmon stocks. 5:23:01 PM GEORGE PIERCE, testifying in support of proposed HB 100, suggested that it be a worldwide bill. He reflected on a documentary that had caused him great concern, citing the possibilities for escape and the resulting diseases in the wild salmon stock. He questioned whether consumption of the sterile, genetically modified fish could induce sterility in the human population. He declared that this was a worldwide issue, and that it was necessary to stop "messin' with our food chain." He expressed his desire for the Board of Fish to also "tune in and listen." 5:25:11 PM HEATH HILYARD, Executive Director, Southeast Alaska Guides Organization (SEAGO), testified in support of proposed HB 100 and echoed the same concerns as the previous witnesses. He declared that there was a threat to the wild salmon stock, citing the quality of the wild salmon. He expressed agreement with an amendment to more closely define genetically modified fish, as mentioned earlier by Representative Austerman. 5:26:58 PM RICHARD YAMADA, Representative, Alaska Charter Association, testified in support of proposed HB 100 and reported that there were several entities attempting to get approval for genetically modified fish through the FDA. He declared that a risk assessment had not been performed for genetically modified fish, and that a risk existed for release of these fish into the wild. He described an outbreak of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) that had infected a hatchery. He relayed that a computer generated model had indicated that should 60 infected salmon be released into a wild stock of 60,000 fish, extinction of that species could occur within 40 generations. He opined that 500,000 fish had escaped from salmon farms in the Northwest in the past 10 years. He emphasized that the risk from genetically modified fish far outweighed any benefit to the State of Alaska for food production. 5:31:30 PM REPRESENTATIVE MILLER asked if these genetically modified fish, growing at an accelerated rate, would out-compete wild fish for food. MR. YAMADA expressed his agreement that the competition for food would be extreme. REPRESENTATIVE MILLER asked if wild fish swimming in close proximity with pens of confined fish were susceptible to disease. 5:33:20 PM MR. YAMADA confirmed that there could be contamination through water transfer; as hatcheries required water exchange, even filtered water could carry lice and diseases. REPRESENTATIVE MILLER asked if there was any information to the effect of genetically modified or farmed fish on wild fish stock in other parts of the world. MR. YAMADA replied that he was not aware of any. 5:34:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON asked if Mr. Yamada recommended a ban on the importation of live genetically modified fish. MR. YAMADA, in response, stated that the fact of not raising fish would assume that there would be not be any import. 5:35:33 PM GERALD McCUNE, Lobbyist, United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), stated that the official UFA stance was for the FDA to prohibit permits for this. He offered his belief that the technology could be sold to someone in closer proximity to Alaska. He suggested that, if permits were approved, it could be necessary for the fish to be labeled, and not allowed to be raised in Alaska. He offered his belief that regulations already existed to prevent the import of live non-native fish or eggs into the State of Alaska. 5:36:46 PM CHAIR THOMPSON reflected on reports of the escapement of farmed fish which had been caught in Southeast Alaska. MR. McCUNE confirmed that the Alaska Department of Fish & Game had documentation of Atlantic salmon being caught in Southeast Alaska, and as far north as the Copper River, which had escaped from Canadian fish farms. He reflected on the problems arising from farmed fish pens in Canada. 5:38:28 PM BEN MULLIGAN, Legislative Liaison, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, reported that there were regulations banning the importation of live fish under AS 16.05.251. 5:39:52 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON, declaring "frankenfish is a scary proposition," asked if it should be included specifically in statute. MR. MULLIGAN replied that it would not be a bad decision. REPRESENTATIVE HERRON, reflecting on the concerns, asked if there was any harm to add it to statute. 5:41:04 PM CHAIR THOMPSON asked if the definition for genetically modified fish needed to be clarified. MR. MULLIGAN suggested that the definition in AS 17.20.048 could be included in the proposed amendment to AS 16.40.210. 5:42:06 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON, reflecting that genetically modified had "been on the books in some fashion since 1949" and that it was currently referred to as genetically engineered, asked if the statutes should reference genetically engineered. MR. MULLIGAN replied that the wording was interchangeable. 5:43:41 PM CHAIR THOMPSON closed public testimony. 5:43:49 PM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI read the definition for genetically modified fish in AS 17.20.040(b)(2)(A): "a finfish or shellfish whose genetic structure has been altered at the molecular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions." He noted that the definition further included techniques to genetically modify other species. He opined that the definition for natural conditions, which he had read to the committee, would cover any circumstance for the genetically modified organism. 5:44:38 PM REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN replied that it was not his intention to redefine, but an addition of [AS 17.20.040](b)(2)(A) would be helpful. 5:45:11 PM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI moved to adopt Conceptual Amendment 1, as follows: Page 2, line 3, after "AS 17.20.040" Insert "(b)(2)(A) and (B)" There being no objection, it was so ordered. 5:46:12 PM REPRESENTATIVE MILLER, directing attention to the definition in AS 17.20.040](b)(2)(A), suggested that "created" should be substituted for "altered." He nominated that this was necessary for clarity for enforcement. 5:47:11 PM REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN opined that a fish that cannot reproduce would need to be "altered." REPRESENTATIVE MILLER asked to clarify that the alteration occurred at the egg level, or the gene level, which was prior to its being a fish. He expressed his desire to reinforce the amendment. 5:48:13 PM REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN moved to report HB 100, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHB 100(FSH) was reported from the House Special Committee on Fisheries.