GENET archive


5-Animals: GE salmon trial in New Zealand halted

----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  New Zealand salmon research halted
SOURCE: American Press
DATE:   February 26, 2000

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New Zealand salmon research halted

BLENHEIM - A controversy involving leaked secret documents, deformed 
fish heads and gargantuan salmon has ended with a New Zealand company 
agreeing to kill all its genetically engineered fish. More than a 
year after New Zealand King Salmon Co. Ltd. was first accused of 
breeding mutant chinook salmon in the so-called "Franken-fish" 
experiment, the company announced Friday it would bury the remains of 
the specially grown fish and suspend its research.

King Salmon's chief executive Paul Steere said the company made the 
decision after it had successfully introduced an additional growth 
hormone gene into chinook salmon and passed the trait down three 
generations. He denied the decision to suspend the project was 
influenced by political, ethical or scientific resistance. Opponents 
of the project have fought for more than a year to stop it after 
leaked secret papers showed deformed heads and other abnormalities 
had occurred during the breeding program.

After receiving the new growth hormone gene, the salmon grew three 
times faster than the normal rate. According to the company, the 
genetically modified salmon could grow up to 550 pounds. Chinook, or 
Pacific king, the largest species of salmon, grow to 110 pounds in 
the wild. King Salmon has admitted some of the first-generation fish 
had developed lumps on their heads due to apparent genetic 
deformities. "All modified salmon have been killed and disposed of, 
in accordance with (scientific) containment protocols," Steere said 
in a statement. The company said it would retain frozen sperm from 
genetically engineered salmon "at a secure location" so it was 
available to continue the program in the future. The company's 
experimental work was halted as the government prepared to establish 
an inquiry into the project and its controls to prevent live salmon 
or fertile eggs escaping into the wild.


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