do fish count?

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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Thursday, August 22, 2002 at 12:45PM :

In Reply to: Funny you should mention that... posted by Jeff from LTU-207-73-65-124.LTU.EDU ( on Thursday, August 22, 2002 at 11:34AM :

These transgenic salmon overexpress growth hormone, *if* I remember correctly. Who wants to ingest more growth hormone?
Nature 418, 805 (22 August 2002)

Environmental impact tops list of fears about transgenic animals


[WASHINGTON] A committee convened by the US National Academy of Sciences has expressed strong concerns that transgenic animals could damage their wild surroundings.

The panel was asked by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to list the top scientific concerns associated with animal biotechnology. In its 21 August report, the committee put environmental concerns about the impact of genetically modified animals on natural ecosystems at the top of the list.

One US company has already produced transgenic salmon that can reach adult size three times faster than other domesticated salmon. Some scientists and environmental groups have voiced fears over the fish, saying that they could outcompete wild salmon or introduce unwanted genes into native stocks. The FDA is reviewing the fish and has not yet said whether it will allow them to be sold by the company, Aqua Bounty Farms of Waltham, Massachusetts (see Nature 406, 1012; 2000).

But the company says that it is already gathering sets of data that will meet the report's main concerns. "The only animal we intend to put on the market is a non-reproducing female salmon and that's intended to address an awful lot of these issues," says the firm's vice-president, Joseph McGonigle.

The academy's report says that there is not yet enough scientific evidence to prove that transgenic salmon would be environmentally safe. There are also no definitive data on how safe the salmon or other transgenic animals are to eat, it notes. But the panel was less concerned about food safety as regulatory agencies already know how to remove toxic or allergenic products from the food supply.

In contrast, there is no good way to remove invasive species from their habitats if they cause problems, says panel chair John Vandenbergh, a zoologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. "I like to go fishing, but I don't know if I could catch all the genetically engineered salmon in the North Atlantic if they escape," he says.

In its report, the panel says that it has a "moderate level" of concern that proteins introduced into transgenic animals could cause allergic reactions if eaten by people. But it found no evidence that food products from cloned livestock such as milk from cows would prove dangerous.

Biotechnology companies that produce transgenic farm animals say that they hope the report will calm their investors. But environmental groups hailed the report as a critique of current US regulations on transgenics. "This backs up our contention that federal agencies aren't able to fully address the environmental and safety issues associated with these technologies," says Joe Mendelson of the Washington-based Center for Food Safety.

-- Lilly
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