Bethel city council opposes ‘Frankenfish’

by Mark Arehart on February 13, 2013

At its last regular meeting, the Bethel City Council decided to publicly oppose genetically modified salmon that could soon make it to American’s dinner tables. The fish is called the AquAdvantage Salmon, but many just call it the “Frankenfish.”

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The salmon, created by east-coast aquaculture company Aquabounty, has been causing a state and national stir—if approved it will bet he first genetically engineered animal to be sold in North America.

“Aquabounty has basically patented a fish that they have genetically modified, it’s designed to grow faster,” said Council member Eric Whitney, who sponsored the resolution.

The so-called Frankenfish would be cheaper to harvest than the wild variety, and would not have to be labeled differently.

“It should be clearly labeled so that people know what they’re eating. And if you are comparing a product like a wild Alaskan salmon to something that’s raised in a pond and fed fish meal and is genetically modified, it needs to be distinctly identified that way.”

The resolution was originally written to just express the need for different labeling for the genetically modified fish. But the council decided that wasn’t enough.

“I think that the city of Bethel should be on record as opposing the approval of this genetically modified organism,” said Council member Mark Springer.

Specifically council is concerned that the modified salmon may escape from holding pens in Washington State, British Columbia and Maine and outcompete wild salmon.

“You can’t control nature and reproduction. Nature will always find a way to get loose. It’s amazing what it does,” said Mayor Joe Klejka.

In a unanimous decision, council passed the resolution opposing the genetically modified salmon altogether. It also says that if passed, all genetically modified salmon should be labeled as such.

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