US company given $1.6m to research genetic manipulation of fish – Fishupdate.com

US company given $1.6m to research genetic manipulation of fish Published:  12 September, 2003

A US company has been given $1.6m by the US government to research the sterilisation of fish by genetic manipulation.

Aqua Bounty Technologies, a US biotech company, has been given $1.6m by the US government to research the sterilisation of fish by genetic manipulation.

The company will compare five techniques for altering reproduction in catfish and carp.

The three year study will cost $3.5m in total, but the company believes it could make $850m a year if it is successful.

Researchers for Aqua Bounty Technologies are hoping to develop “a method of introducing genes into fish that can be chemically manipulated to interrupt the normal reproductive cycle of transgenic fish”, according to a statement released by the US federal agency the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The company has developed transgenic fish and hope the new research will help them sterilise these fish so that environmentalists will be less concerned about their introduction into the aquaculture industry. If they are sterile, the company reasons, then if they escape from farms they cannot interbreed with wild species.

The global aquaculture industry is extremely wary of genetic manipulation techniques because of the likely opposition from many consumers over the use of this technology.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology however said it wished to back Aqua Bounty’s work because it could give the US a lead in this new technology.

The statement points out that the US aquaculture industry currently lags behind its international competitors, as it “trails nine nations in fish production.

The institute also pointed out that the economic prize for successfully developing the technology could be huge. Its statement points out that by 2025, there is expected to be a global 55m metric ton shortage of seafood products.

The institute’s statement added: “Expected economic benefits include possibly decreasing the current US trade deficit in fish products and generating an additional $850m a year within the US economy, while lowering labour costs and increasing productivity of aquaculture farming.”