Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

01/29/2018 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSJR 4(RES) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHJR 12(FSH) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              HJR 12-OPPOSING GEN. ENGINEERED SALMON                                                                        
4:03:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL  announced consideration of HJR  12 [CSHJR 12(FSH),                                                               
version 30-LS0276\D, was before the committee].                                                                                 
4:04:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR, Alaska  State Legislature,  sponsor of  HJR
12, thanked the committee for hearing the resolution.                                                                           
THATCHER  BROWER,  staff  to Representative  Tarr,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, introduced himself.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR said  HJR  12 is  not a  new  topic for  the                                                               
legislature. When she  first started working on it  in 2013, they                                                               
were still pushing  the Federal Drug Administration  (FDA) to not                                                               
approve  genetically  modified  salmon.  That  changed  with  the                                                               
November 2015 decision to allow  genetically modified salmon. The                                                               
reason for her  continued concern is that this is  the first time                                                               
the  FDA has  approved a  genetically modified  animal for  human                                                               
consumption. Genetically modified plants  were approved for human                                                               
consumption in the early 90s.                                                                                                   
She said  AquaBounty Advantage  Salmon uses  Ocean pout  DNA that                                                               
makes fish  grow year-round  and Chinook  salmon DNA  making fish                                                               
grow bigger faster for its genetic modifications.                                                                               
4:06:22 PM                                                                                                                    
She showed pictures of a wild  salmon compared to a GM salmon and                                                               
said  Alaska  is proud  of  its  strong fisheries  policies  that                                                               
manage  for sustainability,  so this  renewable resource  will be                                                               
around  for  years to  come.  It  is  important for  the  state's                                                               
economy but  also for its  culture. Our relationship  with salmon                                                               
is different than the company that  is promoting the GM salmon. A                                                               
picture of the  AquaBounty website revealed that  the business is                                                               
not  so  much about  sustainability  as  it  is about  growing  a                                                               
product faster.                                                                                                                 
4:07:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  said the fact  that the salmon are  grown in                                                               
an indoor  facility is one  of the reasons  people say it  may be                                                               
less risky, but that may not  be the case. This highly mechanized                                                               
indoor operation  does not say sustainable  fishery management to                                                               
her.  Besides  risk to  human  health  and the  state's  economy,                                                               
escapement still poses  a threat to wild salmon.  These GM salmon                                                               
are produced  in three different  countries. She has  visited the                                                               
facility on  Prince Edward  Island [in the  Bay of  Fortune, Nova                                                               
Scotia]  where the  eggs are  produced. The  eggs are  shipped to                                                               
Panama to grow  into fish. Then they are sold  for consumption in                                                               
the U.S. The regulatory oversight  is "strange" because all these                                                               
jurisdictions are involved. In a  broader sense, Alaska fisherman                                                               
have  caught   Atlantic  farmed   salmon  and  there   are  risks                                                               
associated with that.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR said  Prince  Edward Island  has a  tourism-                                                               
based  economy and  when she  first visited  in 2013  some people                                                               
were  concerned  that "Frankenfish"  came  up  first when  Prince                                                               
Edward Island  was googled,  and they didn't  want to  be branded                                                               
that way  given the  controversy around it.  They didn't  know if                                                               
people would want to visit. That  is what made them interested in                                                               
the  work she  was  doing  in Alaska;  they  have  since filed  a                                                               
She said  the AquaBounty facility  was really  concerning because                                                               
it was so closely situated to  a water body where native Atlantic                                                               
salmon live.  Farmed salmon  can also spread  more disease  and a                                                               
scientific study found that when  they cross-breed with wild fish                                                               
the new  hybridized fish could  out-compete and outgrow  the wild                                                               
variety within several life cycles.                                                                                             
4:12:14 PM                                                                                                                    
The   FDA  approved   genetically  modified   salmon  under   the                                                               
veterinary medicine  component of the  FDA rather than as  a food                                                               
product,  and   people  have  questioned  whether   that  is  the                                                               
appropriate  way to  test  if  one is  testing  for human  health                                                               
concerns.  The lack  of rigorous  scientific examination  of what                                                               
the human  health risks are  is a big  part of the  opposition to                                                               
this particular  proposal even for  folks that may  be supportive                                                               
in the end.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  explained the  price of  wild salmon  took a                                                               
huge  dip when  farmed salmon  was introduced.  The legislature's                                                               
response  was creating  the  Alaska  Seafood Marketing  Institute                                                               
(ASMI)  to  market  Alaska's  wild   salmon.  It  has  been  very                                                               
successful in doing  that. It has been reported  that wild Alaska                                                               
salmon is the  second most recognized brand  on restaurant menus.                                                               
But  absent  labelling,  the  introduction  of  this  genetically                                                               
modified  salmon  will  undermine   people's  confidence  in  our                                                               
product.  The  fishing industry  is  the  largest private  sector                                                               
employer in  Alaska and  we want  to keep  jobs rather  than lose                                                               
jobs.  Alaskans  are  not  alone in  opposing  GM  salmon.  Major                                                               
retailers, like Fred Meyer and Costco,  where Alaska buy a lot of                                                               
their food  have said they will  not sell the GM  salmon, but its                                                               
approval  is  still  a  challenge  and  it  can  be  sold  almost                                                               
4:15:46 PM                                                                                                                    
She  said  there  is  also  international  opposition.  When  the                                                               
approval  first  was  made,  the Prince  Edward  Island  filed  a                                                               
lawsuit  for  the  way  the   Canadian  government  approved  the                                                               
production of the GM eggs. Panama  is where the fish are actually                                                               
grown, and  the company  was fined  by the  Panamanian government                                                               
because  of   escapement  issues.  One  can   see  the  potential                                                               
jurisdictional  problems, because  this  industry involves  three                                                               
different  countries.  Some   U.S.  fishing,  environmental,  and                                                               
consumer  safety  groups  filed  a  lawsuit  on  March  31,  2016                                                               
questioning how it was approved in the first place.                                                                             
4:17:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR   applauded    the   Alaska   Congressional                                                               
delegation  for  their  leadership  as  outspoken  advocates  for                                                               
Alaska  wild   salmon.  On  July  11,   2017,  Senator  Murkowski                                                               
introduced  legislation to  mandate the  labeling of  genetically                                                               
engineered (GE)  salmon. The bill requires  an independent third-                                                               
party  scientific review  of the  FDA's environmental  assessment                                                               
for all GE  fish for human consumption. This  would be additional                                                               
She said  the AquaBounty website used  to list a whole  number of                                                               
species that they were interested  in having genetically modified                                                               
from  shrimp to  crab to  other  fish. So,  questions around  the                                                               
regulatory  framework   used  (rather  than  a   focus  on  human                                                               
consumption) and concerns  for the marine environment  need to be                                                               
understood  before  the  flood  gates are  opened  to  many  more                                                               
applications. Senator Murkowski's bill,  S1528, has been referred                                                               
to the  Committee on Health,  Education, Labor, and  Pensions and                                                               
has not  received a hearing,  yet. It is co-sponsored  by Senator                                                               
Dan Sullivan,  Senator Maria Cantwell of  Washington, and Senator                                                               
Jeff Merkley of Oregon.                                                                                                         
4:19:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if   the  resolution  opposes  just                                                               
AquaBounty or all GE salmon.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  replied theirs is the  only application that                                                               
has been approved  at this time, and the  application is specific                                                               
to this  three-country scenario  of eggs,  growing the  fish, and                                                               
the marketing of the fish.                                                                                                      
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  said  the  next  resolve  urges  the  same                                                               
legislature  or  the  U.S. Congress  to  enact  legislation  that                                                               
requires prominently labeling GE salmon  and asked if it would be                                                               
possible for Congress to outright ban the sale of GE salmon.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR answered that  Congress could ban it, because                                                               
that  decision  would  supersede  the  FDA  decision.  Alaska  is                                                               
limited by  the Interstate  Commerce Clause to  what it  can say.                                                               
However, she has introduced a bill  that would ban the sale of GE                                                               
salmon in  Alaska. The way a  company would have to  show harm is                                                               
to say that it violates  the Interstate Commerce Clause. So, they                                                               
would have  to prove that  barring this  law they would  stood to                                                               
make a  lot of money  in Alaska. But  Alaska would have  a strong                                                               
argument that Alaskans probably aren't  going to buy this fish if                                                               
they know that it is  genetically modified, probably for the same                                                               
reasons  that a  lot less  farmed salmon  is sold  here. Alaskans                                                               
prefer  to catch  it  themselves or  get it  from  a friend.  Her                                                               
thought was to poke at that a little bit at the state level.                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI said  that  50 percent  of restaurants  say                                                               
their salmon is wild  but it's not and asked if  there is any way                                                               
to address that issue.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR answered  that ASMI  does a  lot to  educate                                                               
retailers and  restaurant owners on  where to buy  their products                                                               
and to  have a chain  of custody to know  that it is  really wild                                                               
Alaska salmon, but  it needs to be addressed  more thoroughly. It                                                               
is  a problem  if  people are  using the  brand  that Alaska  has                                                               
worked so hard  to build to sell farmed salmon;  if people get an                                                               
inferior product they won't buy it again.                                                                                       
4:24:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL opened public testimony.                                                                                          
4:24:11 PM                                                                                                                    
VAL GIDDINGS, consultant,  Biotechnology Innovation Organization,                                                               
said  he specializes  in  the regulation  and  policy related  to                                                               
biotechnology  and these  were his  views.  He is  an angler  and                                                               
loves the  wilderness. He  shares their  concerns for  the safety                                                               
and sustainability  of Alaska's salmon fisheries,  "a crown jewel                                                               
in our national  heritage of incalculable value, and  they face a                                                               
number of threats."                                                                                                             
Unfortunately, the  AquaAdvantage salmon  framed in this  bill is                                                               
the opposite of  one of these threats, he said.  To the extent it                                                               
is successful,  it will reduce  the threat from farmed  salmon to                                                               
Alaska's wild  salmon. These salmon  are intended to be  grown in                                                               
terrestrial  systems far  from  where they  can  escape. This  is                                                               
exactly the method for growing  Atlantic salmon that the Monterey                                                               
Seafood Watch  Program has rated  as "the best choice."  The data                                                               
show that if these salmon  did escape, their biology and behavior                                                               
would make  it highly  unlikely that any  would survive.  If they                                                               
survive, they are sterile and incapable of reproduction.                                                                        
MR. GIDDINGS  said if commercial  sea pens of Atlantic  salmon in                                                               
the  Pacific   Northwest  were  all  replaced   by  these  indoor                                                               
circulating tanks the concerns that  the sea pens raised for wild                                                               
salmon  will be  completely  negated. Even  if the  AquaAdvantage                                                               
salmon were capable  of reproduction, eggs and  fry require fresh                                                               
water and can't live in the ocean.                                                                                              
Another concern  raised by the legislation  is equally unfounded.                                                               
The FDA chose  to do a more thorough review  of this salmon under                                                               
the new  animal drug provisions  of the Veterinary  Biologics law                                                               
before allowing it to be introduced  into the food supply. All of                                                               
FDA's analyses were made available  for multiple rounds of public                                                               
comment including an independent  third-party review. He has read                                                               
all the  comments and documents  to this docket and  followed the                                                               
process  from   the  beginning   and  after   this  unprecedented                                                               
analysis,    the   FDA    concluded   that    this   salmon    is                                                               
indistinguishable from  other salmon. It  is at least as  safe to                                                               
eat as  any other salmon  and the way it  will be grown  gives it                                                               
the smallest environmental impact of any farmed salmon.                                                                         
4:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
FRANCES  LEACH, Executive  Director, United  Fishermen of  Alaska                                                               
(UFA), Juneau,  Alaska, strongly  supported HJR 12.  UFA strongly                                                               
opposes genetically modified salmon  and requests that GM seafood                                                               
products  be clearly  labeled as  such. According  to a  New York                                                               
Times poll, over 90 percent  of Americans would prefer that their                                                               
food   is  labeled   to  reflect   the   content  containing   GM                                                               
ingredients; 37 percent of those  surveyed expressed concern that                                                               
GMO in their  food may cause cancer and allergies;  75 percent of                                                               
respondents said they would not eat genetically modified fish.                                                                  
4:30:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL,  finding  no   further  comments,  closed  public                                                               
SENATOR COGHILL asked the sponsor  to respond to language on page                                                               
2, line  8, saying AquaAdvantage  salmon "could  devastate native                                                               
fish populations."                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  replied  that what  she  saw  peer-reviewed                                                               
scientific papers showing that this  interbreeding took place and                                                               
why it  was such a concern.  For example, in Panama,  the company                                                               
was  fined for  escapement issues.  Unpredictable things  happen,                                                               
like an earthquake, that could result  in a major release into an                                                               
adjacent water body.                                                                                                            
SENATOR COGHILL commented it's an obvious area of dispute.                                                                      
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if  she agreed  that  GE  fish  are                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  replied that  it's not  true 100  percent of                                                               
time, and that is why there is a concern.                                                                                       
SENATOR  COGHILL moved  to report  [CSHJR  12(FSH)], version  30-                                                               
LS0276\D,  from  committee  with individual  recommendations  and                                                               
attached zero  fiscal note. There  were no objections and  it was                                                               
so ordered.                                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Senate Resources - Hearing Agenda - 1 - 29 - 2018.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Sponsor Statement.PDF SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
CSSJR4 - Version O.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
CSSJR4 - Summary of Changes From Version D to Version O - 1 - 25 - 2018.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
CSSJR4 - Fiscal Note - 1 - 26 - 2018.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - Federal Ivory Exemption Legislation - 1 - 26 - 18.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - Hawaii Statutes.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - Marine Mammal Protection Act Section 101.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - Marine Mammal Protection Act Section 109.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - New Jersey Statutes.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - New York Statutes.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - Resolutions from Communities and Organizations.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR 4 - Support Document - Walrus Subsistence Numbers.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
SJR4 - Assorted Letters of Support - 1 - 25 - 2018.PDF SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR012 Sponsor Statement 2.22.17.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR012 Version D (FSH) 3.12.17.PDF SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR012 Supporting Document - Slide Presentation 4.6.17.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR012 Supporting Document - Letters of Support 3.24.17.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12
HJR 12 - Fiscal Note - 1 - 26 - 2018.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12
CSSJR4 - Amendment to Version O.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12 - Supporting Document - Anne Wieland.pdf SRES 1/29/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 12