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Seawatch: ‘Frankenfish’ Hit Market, But With Labeling Rules

Though bio-engineered fish weren’t banned, efforts to identify them succeeded.

While the fight to keep genetically engineered salmon off the market in the U.S. has largely failed, the fight to have it labeled as such has had some success.

There has been a phase-in of labeling requirements for products containing bioengineered ingredients after U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard in 2018, which is now in full effect.

The standard requires food manufacturers, importers and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered (BE) food and BE food ingredients, more commonly referred to as genetically modified or GMO.

The new rule keeps different states from having different rules, making for more uniform information being provided to consumers.

In Alaska the fight for labeling GMO products has centered around a salmon hybrid created by splicing the genes of a Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon and a fish known as ocean pout, which can grow twice as fast as a farmed Atlantic salmon, reaching a market size of 8-12 pounds in 18 months versus 36.