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Frankenfish (Glofish) Enter the Market

Ethics or science? That's the conundrum facing the California Department of Fish & Game. The battle centers on a transgenic aquarium fish.

First developed at the National University of Singapore as a pollution marker, researchers spliced a sea anemone gene into what nature intended as a black-and-silver zebra fish. They made a freshwater fish that appears bright red - the color of a tropical saltwater reef dweller in normal light. In a dark room under ultraviolet or black light, however, the fish appear to glow.

Dubbed the FrankenFish, critics are concerned that it may survive in the wild and affect natural species. The species has been trademarked as the "Glofish."

Commissioners of the CDFG aren't "ethically" comfortable with the new species, although the science behind the fish led biologists to recommend approval. California is the only state to prohibit sales of the Glofish, which account for one-eighth of the country's ornamental fish sales.

Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the National Environmental Trust, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Consumers Union all objected to the lack of regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. They all said in a joint letter to the FDA that a decision not to regulate the zebra fish will open a "floodgate" for other transgenic species to hit the market with no oversight. The Center for Food Safety plans to sue to force regulation of such transgenic species.

You can check out the Glofish site, and also this detailed article for more information.

They go on sale elsewhere on January 5.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 at 11:43 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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