AR-News: (US WA) Research fuels worry about genetically altered fish, environment

Animalara2003 at Animalara2003 at
Sun Jun 13 06:48:53 EDT 2004 

Posted on Sun, Jun. 13, 2004


The Seattle Times

SEATTLE - (KRT) - In a head-to-head battle for food, normal coho salmon lose 
out to their genetically engineered cousins, says a new study that adds to the 
controversy over what critics call "frankenfish."
Not only did the aggressive, gene-modified salmon gobble up most of the feed 
when raised in tanks with ordinary salmon, but they also gobbled up their 
weaker competitors - including their own type, British Columbia scientists 
reported in the June 7 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of 
The results were often dramatic population crashes, with only one or two of 
the genetically modified fish surviving in tanks that originally held 50 
animals, said lead author Robert Devlin of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
"When food supplies are low, transgenic (genetically modified) fish have a 
very significant effect on the population," he said, adding the caveat that 
laboratory experiments may not predict what would happen if bioengineered salmon 
escaped into the environment.
But that's a question that needs to be answered soon.
Massachusetts-based Aqua Bounty Farms has asked the U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration for approval to market what could be the first transgenic food fish: 
Atlantic salmon that grow twice as fast as normal fish. Aqua Bounty hopes to 
raise its transgenic salmon in coastal net pens in the United States and market 
the eggs around the world, said Joseph McGonigle, vice president for external 
affairs. "We are constantly hearing from companies that are interested in 
it," he said.
Faster-growing salmon would cut costs dramatically for fish farmers and lead 
to lower prices in the supermarket, McGonigle said.

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