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Alaskans Gone Wild – Say No to Frankenfish!


(Insert Jaws theme here)

The Frankenfish is coming!  Unless we all speak up…

The push to introduce a genetically-modified, farmed Atlantic-Pacific-Salmon-Eel hybrid into the marketplace continues, but we have time to stop it. Alaska’s entire congressional delegation is all on our side on this one, so no excuse to call it a “partisan political issue.” This is about Alaska’s greatest sustainable treasure, our wild and wonderful salmon.

The FDA has already issued a draft Environmental Assessment with a finding that genetically modified Atlantic salmon caused no significant environmental impact. Really?

Sorry, FDA. Alaskans are smarter than that. We know that contamination of our wild stocks is a risk we will not take just so corporations can try to tinker with Mother Nature and make a bigger genetically modified fish. It is well known that escaped farmed salmon can play havoc with wild stocks, while also driving down the price of superior wild fish.

The Frankenfish would be the first genetically modified animal to appear on store shelves, and of course, no labeling will be required. Final approval of the Frankenfish could come later this year and would drastically change Alaska’s economy and ecology forever.

So, what can you do?

To submit a comment to the FDA and tell them that Alaska’s economy, jobs, and wild salmon are not for sale, click HERE, click the “comment now” button next to “Draft Assessment for Genetically Engineered Atlantic Salmon” and submit your information. Public comment closes on February 25, so do it now!

Also, this Saturday, February 9th, from 1-1:30 pm at Crescent Harbor Shelter in Sitka, there will be a quick get together to show public opposition to the pending FDA approval of genetically engineered farmed salmon. It’s not too late to comment to the FDA, come learn why and how! The Press have been invited, so let’s have a great showing. Mudflatters will be on hand to report back, and they need your support.

And it’s not just Alaskans who are speaking out. From Sitka to Southern California’s Santa Monica Pier, to New Jersey, rallies are scheduled up and down the West Coast this Saturday as part of a final push to collect comments.

San Francisco at Embarcadero and Market St.

Santa Cruz at Intersection of Capitola Rd & 41st Ave.

Los Angeles at Santa Monica Pier.

Sitka, Alaska at Cresent Harbor Shelter.

New Jersey at Irvin St and Haddon Ave in Collingswood.

Paul Rioux, who made his living fishing, was the original organizer of the Sitka rally, but he said the event has taken on a life of its own with multiple fishing organizations and the Sitka Conservation Society getting involved.

“The idea is to raise awareness so people know that they can comment on this,” Rioux said.  “It is a public process, but people don’t know that.”

Wild Salmon are the backbone of the economy of Southeast , providing over 4,000 jobs  to Southeast Alaskans alone. Statewide, the number of jobs is in the tens of thousands. The viability of salmon fishing and processing affects the viability of the entire Alaska seafood industry. The approval of genetically engineered salmon will expand the price differential between wild versus farmed salmon, harm local fishermen, and possibly even reduce the political and economic will to maintain the ecological health of wild stocks.

Please share this story via email, Facebook, or Twitter so people are aware they have a voice in this issue.



40 Responses to “Alaskans Gone Wild – Say No to Frankenfish!”
  1. WakeUpAmerica says:

    Unfortunately, the “submit” button doesn’t work on that site.

  2. goI3ig says:

    What’s next? Soylent Green?

    • mike from iowa says:

      In iowa it is corn green,soybean green,John Deere green,and alfalfa green with money green dead last.

  3. mike from iowa says: According to this, claims that Frankenfish grow faster is challenged by Salmobreed who farm fish in Scandanavia.

    • Dale says:

      Ha! So maybe the local-economy argument won’t be a problem after all. (Still that escape concern to worry about…)

  4. Dale says:

    I can get behind the concern about escaped farmed fish having negative effects on wild populations (the genetic modifications are to accelerate early growth; this would give them an advantage over the slower-growing wild salmon, however, it negatively effects their survivability as they grow older, resulting in both fewer wild and fewer modified fish surviving to spawn.)

    I can get behind labeling, because I think people have a right to know about where their food comes from, even though most people’s reasons for wanting to know in this case are spurious (i.e., the modified fish are completely safe to eat.)

    And while I empathize with the local economic argument–cheap fish is bad four our local fishing industry–I can’t help but think about how bad horseless carriages were for someone’s local horse-whip industry. Long-term progress always hurts someone in the short term, but if we always acquiesced to that argument, where would we be today?

    • Jeanne Devon says:

      We just have to define “progress.” While new technologies will always supplant old habits and ways, this will be the first instance of a genetically modified (not just hybridized like a rose) animal for consumption by people. Changing the code of life, and setting it free into the world, and our bodies. I think you hit two important points in your comment. There are any number of reasons this is a bad idea, and really all it takes is one.

    • mike from iowa says:

      No offense,but how do you know the modified fish are completely safe to eat—because your government said so?

      • John says:

        the government told us several different man-made drugs were safe (after years of testing) only to find out later they were not safe. Now they say GM food is safe (after no testing). What will we find out later?

        • Dale says:

          It’s not true to say “no testing.” Maybe not as much testing as you would like, but certainly not none.

          There are over two dozen genetically modified crops that have been through FDA testing and are allowed to be commercially grown in the US, including corn, which means there’s about a 99.99% chance you’re already eating GM food, and have been for over a decade. So if it’s dangerous–well, you’re already screwed.

          Thalidomide (the “flipper baby” drug) is probably the most famous “mistake” about medical safety in history, but people forget that our FDA got it right! It was never approved for sale in the US, because our FDA wanted more testing.

          Yes; one share of cold comfort, and one of naive trust based on ancient history. Mistakes are made, and there’s a very, very small, but non-zero chance, of a dangerous one. (Not cataclysmic; if it were cataclysmic, we’d know by now.) Is it fair to write that possibility off–and the people who may be harmed by it–as “the cost of progress”? In the long run… I think so, yes.

          • mike from iowa says:

            You do realize that rethiglicans are trying to dispose of the FDA as costing rw campaign donors mucho dinero in frivolous testing and labeling? Thalidomide may never have been approved,it was still used for a number of years and is still in use. We cannot afford a watered down watchdog agency as the price for some korporations bottomline……er I meant progress.

          • Alaska Pi says:

            The criteria the FDA used to accept the Frankenfish is housed in its Veterinary and Animal Medicine Division- the same arm which allows feeding antibiotics to meat animals at sub-therapeutic levels because there is a solid correlation with weight gain.
            There is growing concern that this LEGAL use of antibiotics has or will have unintended /unacceptable consequences for humans and animals.


          • Alaska Pi says:

            The concerns have led to multiple studies which raise further questions which are very important.

            There’s an Israeli study which shows something a bit different about wastewater recycled for use- something which arid/semi-arid areas do more than we do with our usual methods in the US.
            At any rate- the long term use of antibiotics in meat animal food (recent study proposes doing the same for poor peoples in poor countries) is just now beginning to surface as a subject of concern on multiple fronts far away from the basic FDA certification of safe-to-feed-animals-and-safe-for-human-consumption dealie .
            I would suggest that we renew discussion on that one with the FDA as per the safe-for-the-environment portion of their criteria for judgment for certification as there are many, many issues cropping up.
            All this is by way of saying, time has a way of pointing to deficiencies in regulatory framework and policies which we shouldn’t just brush off. Brushing off concerns about Frankenfish because there have been few high profile obvious smoking-gun kind of failures on the part of the FDA is silly. The FDA, within its powers, does ok given what we know and what we think at any given time but it is not tasked to look very carefully at a whole lot of things which in the end can and do come back to bite us in the hiney.

      • Dale says:

        The protein created by the salmon-with-eel-dna are the same proteins as the ones created in the eels themselves. (It’s one that changes the expression of a certain growth hormone.) They are as safe to eat as the eels are. The salmon might grow funny, but the meat is the same.

        Corn that makes its own herbicide? I can see how that might be dangerous; you wouldn’t want to eat herbicide!

        • COalmostNative says:

          There are now studies that show bugs and viruses have modified themselves in response to GMO-modified crops, especially corn. And it’s difficult to keep GMO from spreading into nonGMO crops…

          If the FDA approves Frankenfish, all stores should be required to label it as such with BIG, neon-lettered signs. There are already problems with some grocers and distributors mislabeling cheap fish as the organic/wild, more pricey kind.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          Regulation of GM foods is notably NOT dealt with by the FDA at this point.

          “Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

          The FDA is responsible for “protecting and promoting your health.” They are responsible for determining whether or not food is safe to eat. However, the FDA does not require that genetically modified food seeds be proved safe for consumption before being planted. The FDA also does not require ingredient labels for genetically modified foods. Of all areas of the government, the FDA has undergone the most criticism for the lack of regulation in regard to genetically modified foods. ”

          GM crops such as Bt corn and Roundup Ready crops, have multiple issues brewing on the horizon from resistance building to the modifications (RR crops losing efficacy as “weeds” become able to resist the roundup and Bt corn leading to “superbugs” as well as losing a safe EXTERNAL organic pesticide ) to multi national corporation “ownership” of seed stock.
          The feed-the-world cheaply meme misses a number of problems with seed stock being controlled for profit and the narrowing of diversity necessary to weather bad times. One of the notable things which came out of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill mess aftermath is the growing understanding that salmon stock rebound likely had to do with the genetic diversity the salmon in that area have- that there was enough diversity for some to survive and overcome the event.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          I’m still on the fence about the safe-to-eatness dealie of Frankenfish but not at all on the fence about requiring any such fish, including ALL farmed fish, to be labelled as such.

          Also- there are a couple things to consider in the FDA’s certification as regards safe-for-the-environment . As per AKM’s earlier post here:

          “The AquAdvantage fish will be egged in Canada, and then it will be transported south, and harvested somewhere in Panama, with “little chance” of the probably sterile, mostly all female CanaPanamanian gigantor escaping into the wild.”

          The FDA basically ignored plenty of things the USFW folks had to say about probablity regarding escapement of supposedly sterile fish in favor of accepting that the environment was adequately protected by locating egging and farming of these fish far from places the wild fish usually live. Well- Pffft!
          Also- there are deep and abiding problems with farmed fish which Erin and I “talked ” about on that thread. The sheer amount of food necessary to get a pound of salmon , the cost of ocean based fish feed in dollars and environmental issues, the shift towards land based feeds,the concerns that the quality of the fish as food deteriorates as what it is fed changes…
          The fact that the US consumes 70% of the fish in the market is what it all about for AquaBounty pursuing certification of Frankenfish in this country- they want to sell it here not in some poor country where folks have limited access to high quality protein foods. They are just another outfit trying to bust into a lucrative market without taking any responsibility for fallout or outfall on a number of other fronts.

          • Forty Watt says:

            Are we sure that environmental consequences are under the authority of the FDA and not
            the EPA?

            “Pest resistant varieties fall under the regulatory authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA is responsible for evaluating the safety, including environmental safety, of the introduced pesticide and all necessary genetic material. Recently, EPA imposed new restrictions on the use of some pesticidal corn varieties, because of concerns about the development of insect resistance. In these plants, FDA’s authority is limited to an assessment of unintended effects due to the genetic modification, primarily alterations in nutrient and toxicant concentrations. Herbicide resistant varieties fall under the regulatory authority of FDA with the exception that EPA is responsible for evaluating the safety of any applied herbicides and any resultant residues or metabolites under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FDA evaluates the variety itself including the safety of the expression product of the introduced genetic material.”


            • Alaska Pi says:

              See section I
              yes and sorta no and partly ok and probably not enough is how it shakes out.
              FDA has some authority and responsibility under NEPA to address environmental issues.
              It has been a big part of Aquabounty’s marketing of the project that they are fully addressing environmental concerns with the CanPanama setup.
              Can’t find one of the interim reports where FDA explicitly said this containment idea addressed all they need to deal with… it surprised me at the time. With the egg em/raise em outside the US scheme Aquabounty effectively skips by EPA and others as potential/probable/likely regulators . Unless someone has come up with yet another approach to it all the FDA is/was our thin line of defense on environmental issues there…
              I hope somebody is out there working on it but sure haven’t heard anything.

            • mike from iowa says:

              nine weed species are resistant to RU.Two bugs are resistant to Bt technology.So far.

              • Alaska Pi says:


              • mike from iowa says:

                Pi-since you are the wellesat informed person I have ever not had the pleasure of meeting,can you tell me who drives a black,extended cab,Dodge Ram,4WD pickup with Alaska plates I saw in Sutherland,Iowa today? Iz sea ice potable?

              • Alaska Pi says:

                I’m rilly rilly good at MSU 🙂

                The “they” people say fresh sea ice is pretty salty or briny, multiyear ice is supposed to be ok for drinking . Where I am it is very rare anymore to get ice on the salt water- only in really cold storms with nasty winds off the icefields. Next time I’ll have to go test it out and see if what they say is right.

                What in the world were Ellen and Sam W from Big lake doing in Iowa?
                They said they were going to Arizona!

              • mike from iowa says:

                Reason I asked about sea ice is the doc about Shishmaref,Alaska said the Inupiaq people depended on the ice for food and water. At five miles from the mainland that would be a big hunk of ice.

              • Alaska Pi says:

                mikey- I was being a smart aleck because of the big black p/u thingy.
                It is a peculiarly Southcentral/Mat-Su Valley-on-the-road-railbelt thingy to have humongous rigs. Is interesting that all of AK gets identified with that when most of the rest of us have no roads or only local roads to nowhere 🙂
                We have a few of those rigs in my area- mostly owned by fishermen and almost never seen away from here because of the costs to ferry them to a road somewhere to get Outside.
                Will leave you some water/ice info on AKM’s climate-change-subcabinet thread.

              • mike from iowa says:

                I think I’m developing strange feelings for you? If someone ferried that particular pickup,I’d guess they missed a buoy or two betwixt here and yonder.

  5. mike from iowa says: The price for wild,native salmon is eternal vigilance. That quote was uttered by some wild,native salmon sage in a forgotten era,it is even more true today. Not having any fish to fry in this instance shouldn’t preclude me from reaming rwnj who stand united against Frankenfish while they salivate at the prospect of cruise ship sewage and Pebble mine tailings accomplishing the same ends. Call me cynical,but I have to wonder if nutters would be more accomodating if Frankenfish translated to more campaign contributions and a few jobs for Alaskans. If only salmon could be taught to avoid Bristol Bay and backpack in upstream from Pebble,do their mating rituals and backpack their little bundles of joy back to open water before they die.

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