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peer-reviewed research article

Careful risk assessment needed to evaluate transgenic fish


Alison L. Van Eenennaam, UC Davis
Paul G. Olin, UC Cooperative Extension Sea Grant

publication information

California Agriculture 60(3):126-131. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v060n03p126. July-September 2006.

NALT Keywords

California, fish, risk factors, transgenic animals


The reproductive biology of fish makes them particularly amenable to genetic manipulation. A genetically engineered or “transgenic” Atlantic salmon is currently undergoing federal regulatory review, and international research is being conducted on many other species. The innate ability of fish to escape confinement and potentially invade native ecosystems elevates the ecological concerns associated with their genetic modification. Escaped transgenic fish will not invariably result in deleterious effects on native populations, and careful risk assessment is required to determine the ecological risks unique to each transgene, species and receiving ecosystem combination. In response to public concerns about transgenic fish, California has developed stringent regulations for the importation, possession and raising of transgenic fish, and a California law prohibits their presence in waters of the Pacific Ocean regulated by the state.

author affiliations

A.L. Van Eenennaam is Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Davis; P.G. Olin is Director and Marine Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension Sea Grant.


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