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Oversized Fish Cause Concern

Published: Wed 26 Nov 2003 11:58 PM
Oversized Fish Cause Concern
Recent media reports of oversized fish being caught by anglers demand investigation by the authorities, raising concern about a possible contamination by GE experimentation.
GE Free New Zealand in food and environment believe there may have been a breach of security resulting in milt of experimental GE Salmon and/ or their fertile eggs being released, and that this may have resulted in effects on trout in the South Island canals. The cause of this concern comes from an article where super sized trout, reaching world records, have been caught in the Tekapo Canal.
ERMA and MAF should immediately investigate these stories to ensure there has been no breach and that there is no possibility of the fish having been influenced by a GE growth hormone from the milt from the GE salmon fish hatchery, either from ingestion of escaped salmon eggs or recombination or horizontal gene transfer from the fish themselves.
In 2000 Kings Salmon stopped their experiment into genetically engineered salmon, following reports of deformities and concerns over the risk of escape of the milt and fertilised eggs through the cage screens into the wild .
Scottish environmentalists reviewing a Purdue University study showing that, if accidentally released into the wild, the larger genetically modified fish attract four times as many mates as wild salmon attract, but produce weaker offspring, worried this might potentially decimate wild fish populations in just a few years.
" It would be unforgivable if there has been accidental crossing of the GE growth hormone salmon to another species, for example, our wild trout population- any effects could devastate the populations of any stream or river, if they escaped or were released into the wider environment,” said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.
“Accidental consumption of GE fish would also be a major concern as little is known about the implications or how such growth hormones function when genetically engineered."
Further assessments should be made into the safety of such trout as food. GE Free NZ in food and environment has called on the Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) who says they have ‘no involvement at all’ since ‘trout is not a food sold in New Zealand’ and are now calling on MAF, ERMA and the Department of Conservation to look more closely into any link between the trout and salmon, and flaws in the control and regulation of such experiments.
New Zealand company stops breeding huge 'mutant' fish
BLENHEIM, New Zealand (February 26, 2000 5:50 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - A New Zealand company has agreed to kill all its genetically engineered fish to end a controversy involving leaked secret documents, deformed fish heads and gargantuan salmon.
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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