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Thursday, 08 April 2010

EU-funded study urges caution on transgenic fish farming

How can we curb overexploitation of fish stocks and give commercial fish farming a boost? Some experts say transgenic fish, whose genetic material has been altered to boost growth rates, for instance, is just the ticket. But Swedish researchers have sounded a warning bell: the escape of transgenic fish into the natural environment could trigger many problems and affect the well-being of people. The research from Sweden's University of Gothenburg is part of the ERATS ('Ecological risk-assessment of transgenic salmon') project, funded under the Marie Curie Actions – Outgoing International Fellowships instrument of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Financing for the project totalled more than EUR 202 630. ERATS sought to study the environmental effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within fish farming and to better understand the potential ecological risks associated with commercial production of transgenic fish. Researchers have been able to produce fish that grow faster than normal, or are more resistant to diseases by providing fish with genes from other organisms. These fish are known as transgenic fish. A transgene is a gene or genetic material that has been transferred naturally or by some genetic engineering techniques from one organism to another. Commercial farming of transgenic fish is not allowed anywhere, but a number of applications for such operations are being assessed by EU and US authorities.

Source: European Commission