Washington Legislature
10:16 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Genetically-Modified Labeling Fight In Washington Continues With New Bills

Washington lawmakers will hear a bill to label genetically engineered salmon. The proposed bill would also ban transgenic salmon production in the state.
Credit Flickr Photo/Katrine Kaarsemaker

When Rep. Cary Condotta campaigned for labeling genetically modified food last fall, he noticed reactions were different depending on the type of food: fish or plant. “When you start talking about modifying animals to grow faster and larger, boy, they light up,” he said. “People go, really? They’re not doing that, are they?”

Initiative 522, the measure to label genetically modified food in Washington, failed last fall but Condotta is now sponsoring a bill to require labeling of transgenic salmon and ban its production in Washington state.

Currently, there aren’t any companies in Washington producing genetically-engineered fish, and Condotta said he’s not aware of any plans to produce transgenic fish in the state. “We’ve spent billions of dollars in the state of Washington, protecting our natural salmon runs and bringing them back to life,” he said. “We don’t want there to be any chance there’s going to any contamination or some issue of this fish getting involved with all this work we’ve done.”

A House committee will hear a bill to label transgenic salmon on Friday. A similar bill in the senate is also being drafted.

Only one company, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty, produces genetically engineered salmon. Its salmon is waiting for federal approval before hitting the store shelves. Recently, the company got the go-ahead to produce genetically-engineered salmon eggs in Canada on a commercial scale.