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5-Animals: 400 imported GE fish seized in Singapore



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  400 imported GM fish that glow in dark seized
        Wholesaler didn't have AVA's special permit needed to import
        genetically-modified organisms
SOURCE: The Straits Times, Singapore, by Chang Ai-Lien
        http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/techscience/story/
        0,4386,201437,00.html
DATE:   Jul 25, 2003

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


400 imported GM fish that glow in dark seized
Wholesaler didn't have AVA's special permit needed to import genetically-
modified organisms

A BATCH of more than 400 genetically-modified (GM) aquarium fish, the
first GM animals to be brought here for sale, have been confiscated by
the authorities.

-----
[25cyber.jpg]
It was not meant to be after all. Aquarium supplies dealer Adec Trading
and Services, which had bought the fish from a Malaysian wholesaler, said
it had no intention to flout the law - it had been given the wrong
information on the approval process.
-----

Throwing a spanner into plans to sell the fish here, the Agri-Food and
Veterinary Authority (AVA) said the importers did not declare the special
status of the ricefish that glow green in the dark - they have been
implanted with jellyfish fluorescence genes - or get proper permits for
their sale.

However, the company that brought the fish in, aquarium supplies
wholesaler Adec Trading and Services, said the AVA gave it the wrong
information on the approval process.

According to an AVA spokesman, the fish were confiscated because 'these
are different from normal fish as they contain alien genes, and the
greatest concern is that they could get released into the wild and wreak
havoc with our ecosystem'. Related link: o Profiles of freshwater fish

'We would like to remind all ornamental fish dealers and the general
public not to import, purchase or keep transgenic fish as none has been
approved for sale here so far,' he added.

But Adec's director Gan Li Lian said the company had called AVA to ask
about the import procedures, and was told that no special declaration was
needed, as long as the proper fish name was indicated.

She said: 'We were not trying to flout the law. In any case, none of the
dealers or members of the public that I spoke to here knew that it was an
offence to have such fish. There were no announcements and this all comes
as a surprise to us,' she said.

In response, AVA said this was not the case.

'Our officers are thoroughly briefed on import and export procedures for
ornamental fish. We did not receive any call regarding the import of
transgenic fish.'

Madam Gan said the company bought a few hundred fish from a wholesaler
who drove in from Malaysia, and had been planning to import up to 1,000
fish from Taipei-based pet store chain Taikong Corporation, if they were
approved for sale.

Taikong says there is no danger of the fish reproducing in the wild
because those sold commercially have been rendered sterile.

Although the fish, called TK-1, are already being sold in Taiwan, Japan,
Hong Kong and Malaysia, many developed countries shy away from GM
products, particularly animals. In the United States, for example, no
transgenic animals have been approved for sale.

To bring commercial GM products into Singapore, an importer must seek the
AVA's approval under the oversight of Singapore's GM organisms watchdog -
the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee, said AVA's Wildlife Branch
head Lye Fong Keng.

The committee will set up an expert panel to assess the risks posed by
the products and advise the AVA on their safety. They can be imported
only after they are deemed safe by the AVA and a special permit is issued.

Officials from the AVA have been conducting checks on aquariums and
wholesalers here to make sure that none of them has the TK-1 fish.

The case is still being investigated. Those with queries can contact the
AVA on 6751-9804.

Anyone who imports GM organisms into Singapore or possesses them without
prior consent from the AVA can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for a year.



                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Little green fish
SOURCE: The Striats Times, Singapore, by Chang Ai-Lien
        http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/techscience/story/
        0,4386,200753,00.html
DATE:   Jul 21, 2003

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Little green fish
These glow-in-the-dark ricefish - from the genetics lab, not outer space
- are set to be sold here

GLOWING green fish have hit Singapore shores, and could soon be swimming
into aquariums here.

If approved, the hardy ricefish, which contain glow-in-the-dark jellyfish
fluorescence genes, could become the first genetically modified (GM)
animals on sale here.

The animal's creators, Taipei-based pet store chain Taikong Corporation,
say that the fish, named TK-1, have been on the market in Taiwan, Japan,
Hong Kong and Malaysia for about three months.

A local dealer says they are likely to make their debut here in a week.

Several hundred of the hardy fish, which can survive in salt or fresh
water, are being brought in by aquarium supplies wholesaler Adec Trading
and Services, the sole distributor for Taikong products here. They will
be sold at about 300 aquarium outlets here once the go-ahead is given,
said Mr John Koo, Adec's managing director.

The fish are also expected to enter the United States market later this
month, and Taikong said it will be producing more than 100,000 of the
fish monthly.

So far, only the neon-green version has been put on sale. But later
versions will include a genetically modified (GM) red fish and a fish
with both green and red coloration.

Taikong stressed the fish on sale have been made sterile to prevent them
from contaminating the environment.

When contacted, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), which is in
charge of tropical fish imports, said such fish must be declared and,
like all GM products arriving here, have to be assessed by the Genetic
Modification Advisory Committee, the national watchdog for GM organisms.

Anyone who imports or possesses such organisms without proper consent can
be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for a year.

'The biggest concern is that these fish must have no chance to affect our
ecosystem if they are released into the wild,' said AVA spokesman Goh
Shih Yong.

Singapore researchers were among the world's first to come up with
transgenic zebrafish three years ago, and the transparent fish were made
to glow red, green, yellow and orange with fluorescence genes from
jellyfish and sea anemones.

But The Straits Times understands that these have yet to be produced on a
large scale commercially.

Meanwhile, Mr Koo said he has been inundated with calls from suppliers
and buyers, all eager to get their hands on the fish, which will be sold
for about $9 each, up to 30 times the cost of its natural cousin.

'There's nothing they will do to harm the environment,' he said.

Added Adec director Gan Li Lian: 'Unlike dye-injected fish, these colours
don't fade, and they don't hurt the fish.'

But the reception elsewhere has not been all warm, and some countries and
states have banned them outright.

Frankenfish, as critics label them, could squeeze out their wild cousins,
driving them to extinction through interbreeding, or by eating them.

Madam Pauline Teo, vice-president of Ornamental Fish International, a
worldwide organisation representing all sectors of the ornamental aquatic
industry, said such products could do the local fish trade more harm than
good.

'There are strong lobbies against such fish overseas... If Singapore
begins exporting them, we could well be blacklisted from the tropical
fish market, and that would mean losing out on a big chunk of business.'


                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Imported genetically modified fluorescent fish raising concern
SOURCE: The Japan Times
        http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20030716b6.htm
DATE:   Jul 16, 2003

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Imported genetically modified fluorescent fish raising concern

About 100 killifish genetically modified to emit light from their bodies
have been imported from Taiwan and sold in pet shops in Japan, according
to an Environment Ministry official.

The official said it is the first known case in which genetically
modified pets have been distributed in Japan and voiced concern that the
fluorescent fish, if released into rivers, could upset the ecosystem.

Starting next year, new legislation will require imported genetically
modified organisms to undergo prior screening by the government, but
current laws make no provision for formal procedures for such imports to
go through.

Azoo Japan, which imported the killifish, or "medaka," said there is no
danger of the fish interbreeding with native species, but it will stop
importing them for now at the ministry's request.

The company, based in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, said it imported about
100 of the fluorescent fish in May and delivered them to pet shops and
other outlets, where they were sold for about 6,000 yen apiece. Azoo said
it later collected for screening those fish not sold by the stores.

The fluorescent killifish were developed two years ago by Taikong Corp.,
a Taiwan manufacturer and distributor of aquarium products, in a gene-
splicing project that involved extracting luminous genes from light-
emitting jellyfish and injecting them into killifish embryos.

The fish, whose bodies glow green, are said to have been made sterile
through chromosome manipulation during the course of embryo development
to ensure they do not disturb the ecological balance in the event they
are released into rivers.

The ministry official said the government cannot determine whether the
release of the fish would affect ecosystems unless experts thoroughly
study them.


--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
mobile: +49-162-1054755
email:  coordination(at)genet-info.org
web:    http://www.genet-info.org



--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
mobile: +49-162-1054755
email:  coordination(at)genet-info.org
web:    http://www.genet-info.org