Murkowski: GMO labeling bill inadequate for salmon buyers

The U.S. Senate Thursday passed a bill that is said to require consumer labeling of genetically modified foods, but opponents say it is too weak to be called a requirement. Alaska U.S Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the legislation would not obligate the makers of genetically engineered salmon to clearly distinguish their product from a natural salmon.

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“The reality is we will not see the labeling that I, as an Alaskan, who is putting fish on the

Sen. Lisa Murkowski addresses a joint session of the Legislature on Feb. 17 (Photo: Skip Gray/KTOO
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (File photo: Skip Gray/360 North)

dinner table for my family, would require and would want,” Murkowski said.

The bill would allow GMO food manufacturers to satisfy the mandate by placing a QR code on their labels. To get information, a consumer would scan the code with a smart phone, which would lead to a web page. The legislation was sponsored by farm-state lawmakers. If it becomes law, it would pre-empt states from enforcing their own GMO labeling mandates and block an Alaska law requiring labels for engineered salmon.

The measure passed by a vote of 63-30, with both Alaska senators voting no. It now goes to the House.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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