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CA State Senate Pass Redundant Bill Banning GM Salmon

September 12, 2014
On August 31, the California legislative session officially ended fortunately with no further attempts by Senator Evans to pass a GMO labeling bill. However, AB- 504 (Assemblyman Chesbro’s ban on propagation of genetically modified salmon) did pass the Senate and is on Governor Brown’s desk. Specifically, this bill would prohibit hatchery production and stocking of transgenic fish in California waters and would define “transgenic” for these purposes.

Existing law requires the California Fish and Game Commission to establish fish hatcheries for stocking the waters of California with fish and requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to maintain and operate those hatcheries. Existing law also authorizes county boards of supervisors to establish and maintain fish hatcheries and authorizes the commission to issue permits to nonprofit organizations to construct and operate anadromous fish hatcheries.

A violation of the Fish and Game Code is generally a misdemeanor. Since, this Bill would create new crimes, the Bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

This Bill ignited major concern within the academic community whose focus of their research includes studying genetically engineered fish. The California Fish and Game Commission already oversee a long existing ban law in transgenic fish but allow exemptions for research. The agency therefore did not see the Chesbro Bill as necessary at all. The Chesbro Bill was touted as codifying what was already the practice at the agency. BIO and its allies worked together and were successful in correcting this issue. The final version of the bill includes amendments that provide an exemption from the ban provisions of the bill for research by private entities as well as academic institutions. We hope to continue to do so for potential future parallel bills.