Policy Update

Assemblymember Huffman Introduces Bill to Label Frankenfish



NCEL Point of Contact

Ruth Musgrave
Conservation Senior Advisor


Like Alaska’s Law, Bill Would Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Salmon

California Assemlbymember Jared Huffman has introduced legislation to require genetically engineered salmon to be labeled. The USDA is currently considering whether or not to allow the sale of genetically modified salmon and whether or not it should be labeled as genetically engineered.

In 2005, Alaska enacted similar legislation. Then State Senator and NCEL participant Kim Elton successfully sponsored legislation, SB25, that requires Alaska retailers to identify and label foods containing fish and shellfish, or fish and shellfish products, which have been genetically modified. (ALASKA, SB25, 2005: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill_text.asp?hsid=SB0025Z&session=24). See the September 7, 2010 NCEL Bulletin for more information:http://tinyurl.com/6xdne53

A related article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the California bill can be read here:http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2011%2F01%2F06%2FBA6G1H5F4D.DTL

And, AB88, Assemblymember Jared Huffman’s legislation, can be found here:http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0051-0100/ab_88_bill_20110106_introduced.html

And the text for AB88 as introduced is here:

SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the
(a) Wild Pacific salmon are a critical natural and cultural
resource of California, and are under increasing environmental
stress. More than 106 major salmon runs in northern California and
the Pacific Northwest are extinct and another 214 runs of wild salmon
are at risk of extinction. An escaped genetically engineered fish
could pose additional environmental risk to California’s already
stressed wild salmon populations and coastal ecosystems.
(b) The west coast salmon fishing industry, including both
commercial and recreational components, has lost an estimated 72,000
jobs over the last 20 years. In the face of market confusion, seafood
consumers may avoid purchasing salmon altogether to avoid
genetically engineered salmon which would further negatively impact
California’s wild salmon fishermen.
(c) The Legislature, in recognizing the potential risk to wild
fish populations posed by the farming of genetically engineered fish,
banned these practices in the waters of the state in 2004.
(d) The United States Food and Drug Administration is currently
weighing approval of the first genetically engineered salmon for
human consumption and determining whether labeling of genetically
engineered salmon in the marketplace is warranted.
(e) The United States Food and Drug Administration’s current
review of genetically engineered salmon does not adequately consider
the potential environmental effects and health effects associated
with genetically engineered salmon, including, but not limited to,
risks to native salmon populations and other freshwater and marine
(f) Public opinion polls indicate that 95 percent of the public
want labeling of genetically modified foods and that nearly 50
percent of the public would not eat seafood that has been genetically
(g) Concerns about genetically altered salmon include, but are not
limited to, the following:
(1) Human health risks, including, but not limited to, potential
(2) Negative environmental impacts to our wildlife and ecosystems
including, but not limited to, negative impacts on freshwater and
marine habitats.
(3) Religious-, ethical-, and cultural-based dietary restrictions.

(h) Accurate and truthful labeling to describe whether or not
salmon is genetically engineered is the easiest and most protective
practice to provide additional transparency in the state’s seafood
supply chain so that individuals may protect their health and
California’s environment.
SEC. 2. It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation
to require the labeling of all genetically engineered salmon entering
and sold within the state.