Labeling of Genetically Engineered Fish; especially Salmon – HB 4122
HB 4122A would have required the labeling of Genetically Engineering Fish that are sold in the marketplace.
I believe that Oregon has a substantial state interest in ensuring that consumers are fully informed about the fish they purchase for consumption. Without labeling laws Oregon consumers will be unable to tell whether they are buying wild caught or farmed fish from the North West vs Genetically Engineered fish that feel may pose a potential threat to heath, the environment and Oregon’s fishing industry.
In November the FDA approved the sale of GE salmon, the first Genetically Engineered animal that has been approved for consumption. These are Atlantic Salmon that have Ocean Pout jeans, allowing them to grow faster and bigger. In December (through HR 2029) the FDA was tasked with creating labeling guidelines but even if these guidelines are ever created the requirement could still end in the fall of 2016. In the meantime many major grocery chains such as Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods and many others have already pledged to not carry GE Salmon.
Originally HB 4122 was introduced as a bill to allow local authority to address concerns about the protection of conventional and organic crops from contamination from nearby GMO crops. We could not get the support to move the bill out of committee and then offered an amendment to replace the concept with a labeling requirement for genetically engineered fish. Though the bill appeared to have enough votes to pass the Senate, Senate leadership would not bring the bill forward for a vote. Its main opposition was the Farm Bureau, Oregonians for Food and Shelter and Aqua Bounty. It was supported by Oregon Right to Know, the Oregon Salmon Commission, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Trout Unlimited, Center for Food Safety, Oregon Environmental Council and others. It is disappointing with all that support that the bill was blocked. We are also closely following Federal efforts such as the Dark Act to preempt state labeling.