AR-News: "Glow-in-the-dark fish a bright idea?"

Glickman37 at Glickman37 at
Tue Aug 5 10:16:42 EDT 2003

Fluorescent Fish Stoke Ecological Fears:

Pet Fish that Glow in the Dark Confiscated [in Singapore]:
Glow-in-the-dark fish a bright idea?    
Developer thinks so, but others fear ‘Frankenfish’ 

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Aug. 4 —  Their weird glowing green color makes them look 
like they’ve been swimming in a nuclear plant’s spent fuel pond. But the zebra 
fish on sale in Taipei shops have an even stranger background: They’re the 
latest in genetically modified fish, and their bodies contain DNA from jelly fish, 
making them shimmer in the dark.

SHOPKEEPERS CALL them “Night Pearls.” Some have nicknamed them 
“Frankenfish.” Their makers at the Taipei-based Taikong Corp. use the less catchy name 
“TK-1” — the world’s first genetically engineered fluorescent fish.

       They’ve been on the market in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia 
for about three months, said Bill Kuo, a spokesman for Taikong, which owns a 
chain of pet stores.

       Now the fish are about to cross the Pacific and swim into the U.S. 

       In April, the company turned out 10,000 fluorescent fish, and that 
figure has been doubling every month since, Kuo said. Beginning in August, 
monthly production should stabilize at more than 100,000, Kuo said.
       So far, only the greenish TK-1 has been on sale. But next year, the 
fish should get the company of a red mate, the TK-2. Later, the two colors will 
be combined in the TK-3, Kuo said.
       “The original zebra fish are all colorless,” he said.
       Not everyone is satisfied with the genetic engineering.
       “It must be really dark to see it,” said Maria Hung, who sells the 
glowing fish at her Goldfish Family store in Taipei.
       At $17.40 a piece, the fish don’t come cheap. The goldfish in the next 
bowl cost only 29 cents each, Hung said.
       “Since I started selling the fluorescent fish last month, I haven’t 
found a single buyer,” Hung said.   

         Taikong says its project is still in its infancy, and defended the 
higher cost by noting it spend nearly 3 million developing the fish.
       The company’s spokesman also said admiring fluorescent fish in the 
dark is an acquired taste.
       “It’s still a curiosity. We’re covering new territory here,” Kuo 
       The same type of fish were also on sale at an Azoo store at the 
Asiaworld Plaza, one of Taipei’s upscale shopping malls. The Azoo chain is part of 
Taikong Corp.
       The store attendant pulled a curtain to turn a corner of the shop 
dark. Then she switched on a blue light above the tank and the fish became 
visible, silvery bodies crowned by a greenish glow.
       Yet, while the fish are working their magic on the public, the Taikong 
Corp. also knew there would be fears that the genetically modified animals 
would harm the environment and grow into uncontrollable “Frankenstein pets.”
“We were ready to introduce the fish two years ago, but we wanted extra 
precautions so we waited until this year,” Kuo said.
       The fish may glow in the dark, but Kuo said his company made sure that 
producing offspring is beyond their reach.


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