GENET archive


REGULATION / ANIMALS: Genetically modified fluorescent fishillegally smuggled into Germany and UK

                                  PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Genetically modified fluorescent fish illegally smuggled into
SOURCE: Der Spiegel, Germany
        files attached: 0,1020,827334,00.jpg; 0,1020,827471,00.jpg;
DATE:   20.03.2007

PHOTO GALLERY: FRANKENSTEIN FISH GLOW IN THE DARK,5538,20223,00.html,5538,20223,00.html,5538,20223,00.html
read more about the GloFish at:

Genetically modified fluorescent fish illegally smuggled into Germany

German authorities are concerned that genetically modified fluorescent
fish are being smuggled into the country. Even though the fish are legal
in the US, dealers here face fines of ?50,000 or five years in jail.

There has been widespread concern in Europe about genetically modified
organisms, with protesters warning of the dangers of "Frankenstein
foods." Now glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein fish have been smuggled into
Germany -- and the authorities are concerned about the illegal trade.

The genetically modified fish, which have had their DNA tinkered with so
they exhibit red, green or orange fluorescence, are sold in the United
States under the trade name "GloFish" for $5 each. But the refashioned
fish are banned in Europe.

Recently, though, they have been surfacing illegally in Germany.
Specimens were discovered in a specialist store in the northern German
city of Kiel, authorities from Schleswig-Holstein's Ministry of
Agriculture confirmed Monday.

Ministry spokesman Christian Seyfert told the German news agency dpa
that dealers at an ornamental fish fair in Kiel had also tried to sell
the glowing fish. The organizers had banned those dealers from the fair
and informed the district veterinary office, he said.

Seyfert said that the genetically modified zebra fish had been smuggled
in from Poland and probably came originally from Asia. He said
authorities were investigating the trade routes and had informed
Germany's other federal states of the danger. Breeders and sellers of
the genetically modified zebra fish face fines of up to ?50,000 and
prison sentences of up to five years.

However Hans-Jörg Buhk, head of the genetic engineering department of
Germany's Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety,
believes that the genetically modified fish likely pose little risk.
"You have to put a check on it at the beginning," he said. "Otherwise
you have the effect of opening a door, and then you can't stop it any
more. You can't predict how things will develop."

Scientists in Singapore originally created the fish to detect pollution,
adding a color gene from a sea anemone to zebra fish eggs. If there are
pollutants in the water then the fish light up, in up to five different

The American company Yorktown Technologies quickly recognized the
business potential of glowing fish and secured exclusive marketing
rights in the US. "GloFish fluorescent fish are safe for the environment
and make wonderful pets for new hobbyists and experienced enthusiasts
alike," the company's Web site claims.

According to the firm, there is no risk if the fish get out into the
wild. "Zebra fish are tropical fish and are unable to survive in non-
tropical environments," the Web site explains.

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Aquarium shops warned about potential GM fish
SOURCE: Practical Fishkeeping, UK
AUTHOR: Matt Clarke
DATE:   13.03.2007

Aquarium shops warned about potential GM fish

DEFRA officials have warned aquarium fish dealers in the UK that they
risk prosecution if fish they import turn out to be genetically
modified, Practical Fishkeeping can exclusively reveal.

The GM Inspectorate at the UK's Central Science Laboratory sent a letter
warning fish dealers that GM fish were not authorised in this country,
and that they would face prosecution if fish they imported subsequently
turned out to be genetically modified.

The move followed reports from Practical Fishkeeping concerning the
production techniques used to develop red Zebra danios, in which we
highlighted that the fish were either dyed or genetically modified.

Red danio sales and imports stopped

The GM Inspectorate said that it had become aware that red danios had
been made available in the UK trade and that it was in the process of
investigating whether the fish were dyed or genetically modified.

Sarah Hugo, the Head of the GM Inspectorate, wrote: "Pending the results
of these investigations, we are asking that fish importers do not import
or trade any red danios (or other recently available coloured/
fluorescent danio varieties).

"The importation into, or the acquisition, release or marketing of any
genetically modified (GM) organisms within the UK is prohibited unless a
consent has been granted in accordance with Article 111 of The
Environmental Protection Act 1990."

Hugo said that any such fish that have been ordered should be held in
isolation by importers pending the results of the GM Inspectorate's
investigation, which will be reported as soon as results are available.

Risk of prosecution

Anyone who continues to import red danios during the period in which
DEFRA has requested a suspension of imports could potentially leave
themselves open to prosecution, if the fish are found to be genetically
modified and not dyed.

Authorities in Holland and Germany told DEFRA that genetically modified
danios had appeared in their ornamental fish trade which had a uniform
red-pink body.

Although dyed fish would be illegal to produce in the UK, it is not
illegal to import them. Practical Fishkeeping runs a successful campaign
which asks dealers to sign an agreement not to stock the fish. 74% of UK
aquarium shops have signed up.

Genetically modified danios

Red genetically modified danios are produced in Singapore and Malaysia
and contain an extra RFP (Red Fluorescent Protein) gene in their genome
from a coral, which causes them to fluoresce pink under certain UV-rich

The fish are sold legally in many parts of the USA by Yorktown
Technologies under the trademarked name of GloFish. The apparent flood
of illicit GM fish is not in any way connected to GloFish.

Contrary to some media reports, genetically modified danios are not sterile.

One Practical Fishkeeping reader successfully bred the GM GloFish sold
legally under licence in the USA shortly after they were introduced into
the trade in 2004.


Practical Fishkeeping has seen a letter from Singapore's Agri-Food and
Veterinary Authority (AVA) which says that it has not authorised the
export of any consignment of genetically modified fish.

It says that it had to take enforcement action recently against a
supplier who illegally imported red danios, which tests later confirmed
to be genetically modified.

Following the enforcement, the AVA says that it reminded all importers
and exporters that the import, export or commercial release of GM fish
in Singapore required approval.

The AVA says it is monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to
take action against traders suspected or confirmed to be responsible for
any GM fish import or export which lacks the approval of the AVA.

Anyone who has further information on the availability of red danios in
the UK is asked to contact the GM Inspectorate on 01904 462 223 or the
Fish Health Inspectorate on 01305 206 673. Those in Singapore should
contact Poh Yew Kwang on +65 675 19802.

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Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

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