GM (Genetically Modified) and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) have become buzzwords in recent years. Is artificially changing the characteristics of an animal or fish at the genetic level beneficial or an abomination? The debate will rage on for a long time to come. What do you think about genetically engineered fish?
For centuries genetics of animals and fish have been tampered with via selective breeding to enhance desired traits. For nearly two decades the genetic modification of plants, such as soybeans and corn, has resulted in improved crop yields. However, it has only been recently that altering genetic material of fish has taken place.
Transgenic fish first hit the ornamental fish market in the form of the GloFish®. The GloFish®
is a Zebra Danio
that has been given genetic material from jellyfish. The result is a glow in the dark version of one of the most popular aquarium fish. More recently, glow in the dark Convict Cichlids have been created. It’s quite likely more will follow.
Genetically altered ornamental fish aren’t the only ones being created. Transgenic food fish are soon to be on the market. As of late summer 2010, the FDA is poised to approve the first GE (genetically engineered) animal for human consumption. The GE salmon may soon be on our dinner plates.
In addition to the questions about the safety of eating GE fish, concerns about the environment have been raised. It is quite common for food and ornamental fish to be introduced into local waterways. What effect does an altered fish have on the environment? I don't believe it is likely to be good.