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Duke University

Senate panel approves Dr. Robert Califf as FDA commissioner

President Barack Obama's choice for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration won easy approval from a Senate panel Tuesday, but two senators — a Republican and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — threatened to block the nominee.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she will hold up a vote on the Senate floor until she has reassurances from the agency that it will write rules for labeling genetically modified salmon. The Alaska Republican has said the engineered salmon approved by the FDA last year could be harmful to her state's wild salmon industry.

Califf is now the No. 2 official at the agency, which regulates consumer products from medications to...