BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Scotland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Fish farmers told 'reject GM salmon'
A normal salmon
Natural salmon is best say environmentalists
Environmentalists have warned Scottish fish farmers to reject using genetically-engineered "super salmon".

Friends of the Earth, Scotland, believe the fish - which can grow 10 times faster than its naturally bred equivalent - would have a damaging affect on Scottish wild salmon.

Food under the microscope
Fears have been expressed that if the GM kind were to escape into open waters it would devastate existing stocks.

Last month Aqua Bounty Farms - which has research facilities in Canada and America - announced it had discovered a gene from the Arctic flounder which allowed salmon to metabolise more of their feed during the winter.

GM salmon with a year

This led to a growth rate six times higher than for unmodified fish and cut the harvest time in half to 18 months.

The first genetically-modified eggs using this method will be available in the autumn.

Farming GM fish is far riskier than GM crops because GM fish can literally swim away

Kevin Dunion, Friends of the Earth
Now another American company, AF Protein has revealed it has spliced genes belonging to a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout with those of an Atlantic salmon.

During the research growth rates of ten times more than normal were recorded.

The AF Protein team expect the first salmon to be available for human consumption within a year.

'Major damage'

Kevin Dunion, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Our concerns surrounding GM fish are similar to those of GM crops.

"However, farming GM fish is far riskier than GM crops because GM fish can literally swim away.

"In the wild, escapes of GM fish would have major damage on already devastated wild fish stocks."

John Reid
John Reid: Explained tests
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said anybody wanting to import GM salmon eggs would have to apply to the Government for a licence.

Tests on GM salmon were carried out in 1996 at a salmon farm on Loch Fyne, on Scotland's west coast.

Last year, Scottish Secretary John Reid pointed out the experiments had been carried out under the previous Conservative government and he said all 50 fish involved had been destroyed afterwards.

But many Scottish salmon producers are pressuring the government to allow GM fish to be sold.

They fear being outdone by other countries, such as Norway, which could adopt the technology.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

11 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Giant GM salmon on the way
01 Dec 99 | Sci/Tech
'Trojan gene' could wipe out fish
29 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
GM salmon prompts safety pledge
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories