ETHICS AND SAFETY TIPS
1. Andrew Cubitt (Anaptys BioSciences Inc.) on Toxicity of Fluorescent Proteins [undated]
2. Perry B. Hackett on Safety Issues 
3. Eric M. Hallerman (Virginia Tech) on Ecological Risk Assessment 
4. William Muir (Purdue University) on Environmental Risks 
Some of the documents you may want to review before purchasing, living with or consuming transgenic fluorescing zebrafish are as follows:
In this letter to Alan Blake, Andrew Cubitt, Ph.d, analyzes and comments on the the toxicity of fluorescent proteins that are commonly used in transgenic organisms. He goes on to do a literature review and reports that:
1. Fluorescent proteins have been widely used without apparent toxic effects.
2. Fluorescent proteins are already present in the food chain.
3. Fluorescent proteins do not appear to share significant homology to known allergens.
4. Fluorescent proteins would be predicted to act like other proteins and undergo rapid digestion in the gut.
5. ???? (missing).
6. CONCLUSION: “It is concluded that there is no basis for believing that fluorescent protein expression in transgenic fish would represent a toxological risk, to either the environment or consumers, if the fish should enter the ecosystem.”
In this letter to Alan Blake, Prof. Hacket answers no to the following three questions:
1. Will transgenic tropical fish survive should they escape home aquaria?
2. If the fish were to survive, would they pose any risk to the environment?
3. If the fish did not survive, might the transgene escape and have unexpected consequences?
Prof. Hackett writes “I have been involved with evaluation of safety issues regarding transgenic fish for the past 15 years and have been engaged with making such fish for about 18 years,” meaning that he has been genetically engineering fish since 1985 and evaluating safety issues regarding transgenic fish since 1988.
In this letter Prof. Hallerman provides his opinion that “from the viewpoint of ecological risk, I have no objection to your request to the California Fish and Game Commision for permission to sell your transgenic zebrafish through commercial outlets in California.”Â Interestingly, he points to the findings by Gong et al. (2003) that “suggest no apparent difference in early viability relative to wild-type individuals, with the exception that fish expressing the green fluorescent protein appeared to exhibit a lower survival rate.Â The reproductive success of the transgenics approximated expectations. While preliminary, these results support the expectation that the modification at issue would not increase invasiveness, and that, if anything, might decrease it somewhat.”Â For those interested, it might be valuable to revisit the literature and testing since 2003 to better understand how the genotypical change of RFP, GFP and OFP zebrafish effects phenotypical expression other than color and flourescence. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you discover further information.
In this letter Prof. Muir states that environmental risk assessment of GM fish “can be pre-determined from the probability of vertical transgene spread, i.e. from inter-mating and natural selection.”
Reviewing one paper he state “based on the published results of Gong et al (2003) and with the constructs they used, in the absence of any advantage in age at sexual maturity or adult viability, GFP has a significant net fitness disadvantage, indicating that one would expect natural selection to eliminate the transgene regardless of where it escaped or was released” but adding “The only components not measured by these researchers were age at sexual maturity and adult viability. I would not expect GFP to enhance either of these, but experimental data would be needed for verification.”
Muir does highlights both a mathematical error, and data that wasn’t collected as being limitations to this one study, but concludes that this does not change the net effect or the usefulness of the findings.
Many scientists, policy makers and industry groups have successfully argued and lobbied for releasing genetically engineered transgenic organisms from sterile and closed lab conditions, contending that they are safe for humans to be around, make products out of and consume, in many cases arguing that transgenic organims should not be treated as fundamentally different from non-transgenic organisms.
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