11.12.03

Save the GloFish!

Add the poor GloFish to the list of endangered species. Where's Greenpeace when you really need them? ;-)

On the 5th of January 2004, the GloFish will become the first genetically modified pet to reach the (US) market. Thanks to the insertion of jellyfish genes, zebra fish have been made to glow in the dark, but apart from this unique selling point, the little fish are just the same as any other zebra fish, as found in countless aquaria world-wide. But don't run to order one at your local pet shop yet. The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association describes the GloFish as an "unwelcome addition to the market place", not because it is in any way dangerous, mind you, but because:

"Cold tolerant tropical fish might be produced" that could then escape and possibly harm the environment. However, this is not the case of the GloFish: it could not survive the British winter.

"Arguments could rage over whether or not the technologies to produce sterile fish are water tight". However, this is not a worry with the GloFish for the same reason given above.

"Theoritically these [genetically modified fish] should not pose a threat to the ecology of countries to which they are imported." Fine. Again, this is not the case with the GloFish.

"In Europe generally, and in the UK in particular, there is very strong opposition to GM technologies". Errr... and? Oh, I see, they are worried about white-overall-clad eco-vandals throwing bricks through their shop windows. Not such a far-fetched scenario, sadly enough...

"Arguments can rage over the ethics of swapping genes between species: are we playing god or is it a logical application of mans' advancing knowledge? It is a matter of personal choice or conviction." Indeed. And guess which side the OATA takes...

The whole argument rests more on a general dislike of the idea of genetic modification, rather than on any actual dangers presented by the poor, harmless GloFish and is a worrying reflection of much of society's backward attitutes to recombinant DNA technology...

The OATA anti-GloFish statement

Some GloFish pictures - just because we like them!

Do you know of anyone planning to sell GloFish in the UK? Let us know!

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