Begich leads fight against 'frankenfish' farming

The genetically modified Atlantic salmon grows at double the rate of regular farmed salmon. Aqua Bounty / Barcroft USA

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich plans to introduce a bill that would block federal approval of genetically altered Atlantic salmon as a food source, reports The Hill. Begich is citing a threat to Alaska wild-salmon stocks as one reason -- though the intent is to raise them only in land-based tanks.

"Many call them ‘Frankenfish' for good reasons: a monster that threatens our wild stocks and their habitat, our food safety and economic harm to Alaska wild-salmon fishermen," Begich said.

The legislation would block the FDA from approving a proposal by a company called AquaBounty Technologies, which hopes to breed genetically altered fish with "increased growth rates, enhanced resistance to disease, better food-conversion rates [and] manageable breeding cycles," according to its website.

If the fish do get approval, Begich says, he'll introduce legislation stipulating that they be labeled as genetically altered. Many consumer and environmental groups are also opposing the fish. The genetic modification lets the Atlantic salmon grow faster and larger.