Murkowski: FDA confirmation hinges on GE salmon labeling

Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks on the senate floor. (YouTube screenshot/Sen. Lisa Murkowski)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks on the senate floor. (YouTube screenshot/Sen. Lisa Murkowski)

The Food and Drug Administration has already declared genetically engineered salmon safe for human consumption, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday she’ll block confirmation of a new FDA commissioner until the agency agrees to require labeling for GE salmon.

Murkowski reiterated at a committee meeting that she will put a hold on Robert Califf’s nomination. Murkowski says she’s pressing for more “conversations” with him.

“I want to make sure that the FDA knows that voluntary labeling guidelines really are not sufficient,” Murkowski said. “It does not comply with what is now law.”

Murkowski added a measure to the national spending bill last month that she calls a labeling requirement.

It requires the FDA to keep GE salmon off the market, at least until October, or until the agency publishes labeling guidelines. It also directs the FDA to spend at least $150,000 to develop those guidelines, and on a program to disclose to consumers whether a salmon offered for sale is genetically engineered or not.

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee easily advanced Califf’s nomination. His confirmation bid now joins dozens of other executive branch nominations awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

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

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