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[APD] glowfish banned

On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 08:53:49 -0800 (PST), xicotenco <xicotenco at yahoo_com> wrote:

I think that glow fish should be banned not only in California but, in the whole word. We all know that either plant of fish end in the river streams disruption the local ecosystem with invasive species. Just as an example we have here in Florida South American Plecos allover the place. We don’t know the impact of genetically engineered fish will bring in to nature in the near future.
Another example of GM stuff it is in your freezer right now. Check out this website for genetically modified food.

Surely this is true of most species kept in aquariums? This makes us (except me, I only have goldfish yet) all guilty of potentially invading our natural ecosystems with invasive species? Does your tank contain any fish or plants that you would rather not have in your streams and rivers? Of course, properly kept, there is little to no risk of contamination. It is only when some stupid lazy person gets bored of their fish/plants and flushes them alive, or otherwise allows this contamination, that species escape. It makes no difference whether the zebrafish glows or not, it could still damage natural ecosystems, but I assume you don't go throwing fish into rivers. The company states that the modified zebrafish tolerate cold less than the unmodified fish, so since as far as I am aware zebrafish have not invaded the wild, then the modified version is even less likely to, given its current known tolerances.

It is different, however, when you are creating an organism which presents an obvious or less obvious risk to the natural environment. The most extreme case of this would the accidental release of a modified virus or other pathogen, such as an engineered bioweapon (did you know the US spends more on its military than the next twelve biggest spenders combined?), but there are probably many more examples of this.

There is no fundamental difference between animal breeding and genetic modification, the only difference is that genetic modification is far more precise (changing only a few known genes instead of thousands of genes randomly), but far more powerful. It is a technique which needs more care than other techniques, but unfortunately the root of the problem is that humans are, as a mass, stupid. Nobody would release an organism intentionally that would cause damage, yet stupidity allows it to happen anyway. Stupidity can be overcome, though.

I understand that a common way of isolating modified from unmodified bacteria in a mix is by antibiotic resistance - the bacteria are given antibiotic resistance in addition to the main modification, and then the mix is subjected to the antibiotic, leaving only modified organisms? Surely, outside secure lab facilities, this is asking for trouble.

Perhaps it would be prudent to place security measures in every organism? Suicide genes, that inhibit wide-spread growth (the organism produces a chemical that kills it if to much grows). In Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs were incapable of producing the amino acid lysine. By not feeding this in the dinosaurs diet, the dinosaurs should have died, although (as in the Lost \world), it is possible they could have eaten food high in this amino acid to survive. If rabbits were created with such a deficiency, they would soon breed with other rabbits and gain the proteins to do it. However, dinosaurs are unlikely to breed in the wild. Perhaps all organisms created should:
a) be extinct or otherwise completely unable to breed with any other forms of life (not sterilisation, which is never 100%)
b) be fitted with multiple suicide genes to avoid becoming a major invasive problem in the event of release
c) have huge gaps in their metabolism, making them utterly dependent on humans to survive, and highly unlikely to gain the necessary mutations.

Care and attention, as with all things, is needed.

What a long post! And pretty off-topic too.

Andrew McLeod
thefish at theabyssalplain_freeserve.co.uk
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