2002-05-06 – Somewhat scary, Frankenstein never had fish like these!

This is an article from the front page of the Sunday Telegraph, dated 5th May.


A TAIWANESE company has created a genetically modified zebra fish that will glow in the dark, raising fears among environmentalists and the aquarium industry that the fish will start a trend for bio-engineered “Frankenstein pets”. The modified fish are expected to be imported into Britain later in the year.

They are the first ornamental fish to be genetically modified. A jellyfish gene has been added to make them glow yellow-green. The GM Medaka or zebra fish – an east Asian freshwater variety – has been developed by Taiwan’s Taikong Corporation. It is called the TK-1.

Taikong reported strong interest in Britain, where the aquatic industry is worth £300 million a year. It insisted that the TK-1 was safe, sterile and the fluorescent gene was not harmful. Taikong said it would satisfy European Union rules that genetically modified imports must not threaten health or the environment.

Aquatic industry specialists are worried, however, that the TK-1 is the first of many GM pet fish destined for Britain. Tropical fish are being bio-engineered to tolerate cold and could colonise British waters if they escaped.

“Piranhas that could survive in our waterways would be a major problem,” said Derek Lambert, the editor of Today’s Fishkeeper magazine, who is urging traders to boycott the TK-1. “We are worried about Frankenstein fish.”

Keith Davenport, the Ornamental Trade Association chief executive, said: “Interfering with the genome is unnecessary. We don’t want animals to become fashion accessories.”

I thought this would be of interest to all you readers out there. The Telegraph is the most popular broadsheet newspaper in Britain! The impact of this, hot on the heels of the \”Robo-Rat\”, which has been hard-wired by scientists so that they can control the rat’s movement by radio remote control, will be interesting to note.

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