Target: California Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett
Goal: Protect wild salmon from being contaminated by genetically engineered salmon
A recent law has been passed in California which prohibits the raising of genetically engineered salmon for commercial use in all state waters. While this is encouraging, there is also an important loophole to this law which threatens wild salmon in California’s waterways. The law still allows researchers to grow genetically engineered salmon in tanks which could be located right next to rivers and lakes that are home to wild salmon. If these genetically engineered fish escape into the nearby waters, they would contaminate the wild salmon with their genetically altered genes.
Breeding tanks similar to the ones allowed in this loophole have been destroyed by storms, allowing fish to escape. The Fish and Wildlife Service stated that “history dictates that fish held in aquaculture facilities either land- or water-based, escape.” A Center for Food Safety study found that if only 60 genetically engineered fish escape, the result could be the extinction of 60,000 native wild fish in less than 40 fish generations.
The threat of escape is not the only issue with this loophole. Even though this exemption for research seems reasonable, many of the scientists using the tanks already have contracts with the companies who want to commercialize genetically engineered salmon. This means that the well-intentioned provision undermines the intent of the bill by allowing corporations to continue their efforts in commercializing genetically engineered salmon. Tell the California Senate that this loophole is unacceptable and defeats the purpose of the bill, which is to protect our wild salmon.
Dear Senator Corbett,
The recent law you and your fellow senators passed regarding the protection of California’s wild salmon has a major flaw. The law states that raising genetically engineered salmon in state waters is prohibited. While this is a great thing, the law also contains a loophole that allows the raising of genetically engineered salmon for research in tanks that can be located right next to the rivers and lakes that are home to wild salmon.
In the past, the tanks used in this provision have been destroyed by storms, allowing the fish to escape. If only 60 genetically engineered fish escape, it could result in the extinction of 60,000 native fish in less than 40 fish generations. The other issue regarding this loophole is many of the scientists who are using these research tanks already have contracts with companies who want to commercialize genetically engineered salmon, undermining the bill’s main intent. I urge you and your fellow senators to fix this loophole and ensure the protection of California’s wild salmon.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Walter Baxter via Creative Commons