Jenna: The Australian public will soon be able to buy the first genetically-modified animal for sale – glowing fish. The US company that produces GloFish(TM), genetically modified glow in the dark fish, is one step closer to approval by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) for sale of these fish in Australia.
GloFish are Zebrafish which fluoresce green, yellow or red through the introduction of a naturally occurring sea organism gene. They were first developed by scientist several years ago by introducing the fluorescence gene into fish embryos, for use in helping to detect environmental pollutants in waterways and understanding cellular disease and development.
Today, GloFish are simply bread from the offspring of these original fish, using no genetic engineering. The producers of GlowFish hope that by marketing these existing fish, they will allow people to have their own fluorescent fish while promoting the beneficial scientific goals behind genetic engineering and research of this nature. In fact, a portion of the proceeds from sales goes directly to the lab where these fish were created in order to further their research – research they hope will help to protect the environment and save lives.
GloFish are already on the market in the US, having received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which found no evidence that the GloFish posed any more threat to the environment than naturally occurring Zebrafish. If the OGTR findings are the same, Australian homes could soon be swapping night lights for glow in the dark fish!