Costco won’t sell genetically engineered salmon ‘at this time’

Now that the FDA has approved a genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, Costco appears to be joining Safeway and other retailers in a commitment not to sell it.

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The Seattle Times reports Costco issued a statement Friday saying it does not intend to sell the transgenic salmon “at this time.”

“This is a major step forward from the weak statement which Costco previously made over the summer,” says Dana Perls, who works for Friends of the Earth. That’s one of the groups that’s led a massive consumer campaign urging Costco to reject the AquAdvantage salmon. Perls, though, says she’s not sure of the extent of Costco’s new commitment.

“We are currently in dialogue to understand more about their statement,” she said.

Costco did not respond to a request for an interview today.

It may be a while before AquAdvantage is for sale anywhere in the U.S. The CEO of the company that makes it told the New York Times it will take about two years for the fast-growing salmon to reach market size.  The only FDA-approved facility for growing them is in Panama, and it can only produce about 100 tons of salmon per year. The company hopes to eventually see its fish farmed in the U.S.

Alaska’s Congressional delegation has fought to stop the so-called “Frankenfish” for years, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski says the fight is not over.

“I’m not sure if we can get the FDA to reverse this. I’m going to keep working on it,” she said on the Senate floor Friday. “But at a bare minimum people around this country need to know what they’re serving their families when it comes to seafood.”

Murkowski says she’ll seek a labeling requirement for genetically engineered fish. She also announced today she’ll block Senate confirmation of the nominee for FDA commissioner.

This story was updated today at 3 p.m.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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