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A fishy situation. (Updates).

If a few genetically modified (GM) fish escape into the wild, they could wipe out an entire local population of their species, warn two Purdue biologists, William Muir and Richard Howard (see "The Biotech Century," May/June 1998). The larger size of the fish carrying the human growth hormone (hGH) gives them a reproductive advantage--allowing their genes to enter wild populations rapidly--but their greater early mortality is predicted to eventually cause any contaminated population to go extinct. The scientists call their theory the "Trojan Gene Hypothesis." According to Howard, "This is a very strong force in getting those genes into a population."

Regulators in the U.S. are taking the hypothesis seriously. "[This is] an issue that needs to be looked at as part of the environmental assessment for any transgenic fish with growth hormone added," says John Matheson, a Regulatory Review Scientist with the Center for Veterinary Medicine. Eggs from a GM salmon farm may have escaped recently in New Zealand, say officials at the experimental aquaculture project. CONTACT: The Center for Veterinary Medicine, (888) FDA-VETS,
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Author:Harkinson, Josh
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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