Biosecurity New Zealand has seized and destroyed 300 genetically modified tropical fish found at four Christchurch premises.
Biosecurity incursion agent David Yard says the fish had been modified with red fluorescent protein to make them bright red.
The agency was tipped off by members of the public, who saw the Zebra Daino fish for sale online.
Mr. Yard says the fish were let into the country under the mistaken impression they had been dyed.
He says the fish are unlikely to have entered the food chain or caused any environmental impact.
And in case you were wondering:
Where do GloFish® fluorescent zebra fish come from?
GloFish® fluorescent zebra fish were originally bred to help detect environmental pollutants. By adding a natural fluorescence gene to the fish, scientists hope to one day quickly and easily determine when our waterways are contaminated. The first step in developing these pollution detecting fish was to create fish that would be fluorescent all the time. It was only recently that scientists realized the public's interest in sharing the benefits of this research. We call this the GloFish® fluorescent fish.
How common is the use of fluorescent zebra fish in science?
For over a decade, fluorescent zebra fish have been relied upon by scientists worldwide to better understand important questions in genetics, molecular biology, and vertebrate development. Fluorescent zebra fish have been particularly helpful in understanding cellular disease and development, as well as cancer and gene therapy.
Where does the fluorescent color come from?
The fluorescence in our fish is produced by a fluorescent protein gene, which creates the beautifully colored fluorescent protein that can be seen when looking at the fish. The fluorescent protein genes are naturally occurring genes which are derived from marine organisms.
Do you have to add a fluorescence gene to every fish before it hatches?
No. Today's GloFish® fluorescent fish are bred from the offspring of fluorescent zebra fish that were originally developed several years ago. Each new GloFish® fluorescent fish inherits its unique color directly from its parents, maintains the color throughout its life, and also passes the color along to its offspring.
I wonder if the marketers of GloFish® fluorescent fish earmark any percentage of their revenues to scientific or environmental causes (other than development of "glow in the dark" black cats, to be marketed on Halloween...).
Why are GloFish® the only fluorescent fish that can be sold in the United States?
Because fluorescent fish are unique, their sale is covered by a substantial number of patents and pending patent applications. The providers of GloFish® fluorescent fish, 5-D Tropical and Segrest Farms, are the only distributors that have the necessary licenses to produce and market fluorescent fish within the United States. The production of fluorescent fish by any other party, or the sale of any fluorescent fish not originally distributed by 5-D Tropical or Segrest Farms, is strictly prohibited. For additional information regarding GloFish® fluorescent fish license details please click here.
Why can’t I buy GloFish® fluorescent fish in Australia, Canada, or Europe?
At present, Australia, Canada, and Europe prohibit the marketing of any genetically modified organisms, including our tropical fluorescent zebra fish, until they are cleared through a formal review process. Although we are currently reviewing our options for working through this process, we have no definite plans to submit an application at this time. Please continue to monitor our website for any updates on availability in these areas.
Who can I contact about wholesale opportunities?
For more information about becoming a wholesaler or retailer of our fish, please contact 5-D Tropical, at www.5dtropical.com or Segrest Farms at www.segrestfarms.com.