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December 17, 2015

Congressional Negotiators Reach Deal on LWCF Reauthorization and Include Language Concerning Labeling Guidelines for GE Salmon

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On December 16, 2015, the House Appropriations Committee released the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. The 2,009-page bill includes full appropriations legislation and funding for the 12 annual appropriations bills through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2016. The bill would reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which expired on September 30, 2015. This reauthorization is likely what prompted Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) to inform Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he would drop his objection to Senate consideration of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), which would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Although Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), co-sponsor of S. 697, announced in an October 2, 2015, press release an agreement on bill revisions that brought the number of co-sponsors to 60, enough to ensure that the bill would be able to overcome a potential filibuster from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate has not considered the bill because Burr and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) blocked consideration unless they got a vote on reauthorizing the LWCF. We understand that Senator Boxer has raised some concerns with the bill, or with floor consideration of it, so as of this writing, it is unclear if a Senate floor vote will occur this year or next.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act also includes language that would prohibit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from allowing into interstate commerce any food that contains genetically engineered (GE) salmon “until FDA publishes final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of such content.” The Act also provides that FDA shall use not less than $150,000 to develop labeling guidelines and implement a program to disclose to consumers whether salmon offered for sale to consumers is a GE variety. As reported in our November 23, 2015, memorandum, “FDA Approves First Genetically Engineered Animal,” on November 19, 2015, FDA announced it had approved AquaBounty Technologies’ application for GE salmon (AquAdvantage Salmon), the first time FDA has approved a GE animal.