Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Outraged Republican Senator Vows to Block Appointment of FDA Commissioner Over GMO Salmon

Food

Dr. Robert Califf, the Obama administration's choice for the next commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was easily approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Tuesday, but the candidate's approval by the full Senate faces an unlikely hurdle: fish.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is threatening to block Califf over the FDA's approval of genetically engineered salmon, or GMO salmon.

In November, the FDA approved the first genetically engineered food animal. AquaBounty’s GMO salmon—dubbed “Frankenfish” by opponents—is genetically altered to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. The FDA did not require the product to carry a label, making it difficult for consumers to distinguish between non-GMO and GMO salmon.

Murkowski made it clear she is not happy with the FDA's decision. According to The New York Times, "She said she would put a hold on Dr. Califf’s candidacy because the FDA approved a genetically engineered salmon for consumption days after she questioned him on the topic at his confirmation hearing in November."

Califf, a former Duke University researcher and cardiologist, is currently the deputy commissioner of the FDA.

"If they are trying to get my support, they sure fumbled that ball," she said after the Senate committee approved the nomination on a voice vote.

Murkowski comes from a major salmon-producing state and has been adamantly opposed to GMO salmon. Here is the senator speaking on the Senate floor in November against the fish.

“I will not stand back and just watch these genetically engineered creatures be placed in our kitchens and on our tables without a fight," she said in a statement following the after FDA’s approval of GMO salmon. "I am furious about this decision, but now I must do everything I can to make sure it is labeled—consumers have a right to know what it is they are eating.”

Besides threatening to block Califf's confirmation, Murkowski "helped insert language last month in a massive federal spending bill, directing FDA to prevent the AquaBounty product from reaching the U.S. market until regulators finalize labeling guidelines. It also tells the agency to spend 'not less than $150,000' on that effort," The Washington Post reported.

On Tuesday, the senator said she wants to make sure FDA knows that "voluntarily labeling is not adequate. I’m going to be pushing for further conversations with Dr. Califf on this."

She also tweeted: "I look forward to having conversations w/FDA on Frankenfish, but I intend to block Califf’s confirmation until these issues are resolved."

As it happens, Califf's confirmation also has another roadblock: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Democratic presidential candidate has threatened to block the nominee due to Califf's ties to industry. According to the Associated Press:

In 2006, Califf founded the Duke University Clinical Research Institute, a contract research group that has conducted studies for virtually all of the world's largest drugmakers. Government disclosure forms show that Califf received more than $29,000 in consulting fees, travel, meals and other payments from drugmakers in 2014.

Sanders has said that the country needs an FDA commissioner who will stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and that Califf is "not that person."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Taiwan Bans GMOs in Schools, Mandates Strict Label Laws

Nestle, Pepsi Fined for Concealing GMOs as Campbell Soup Announces Voluntary Label

Organic Farmers Win GMO Fight in Jackson County, Oregon

Monsanto and Gates Foundation Pressure Kenya to Lift Ban on GMOs

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less