An illegal shipment of more than 400 genetically modified (GM) Rice fish (Oryzias latipes) has been siezed by officials in Singapore.
Before the transgenic fishes can be legally sold in Singapore they need to have been granted approval by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). The AVA said that the importer, who purchased the fishes from a Malaysian supplier, did not declare the special status of the fishes. The importer claims it had not been correctly informed on the approval process and had no intention to flout the law.
Speaking to The Straits Times, an AVA official explained that the fish were confiscated because "they are different from normal fish, and contain alien genes, and the greatest concern is that they could get released into the wild and wreak havoc with our ecosystem".
Anyone illegally importing or keeping the GM fish in Singapore risks a fine of $10,000 and can be imprisoned for one year.
The AVA warned all ornamental fish dealers operating in Singapore, as well as fishkeepers, that approval had not been granted for the sale of the fishes so they should not purchase them should they see them offered for sale.
The GM TK-1 fish produced by Taiwan's Taikong Corporation are already on sale in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia but have not yet been approved for sale in the USA or Singapore. As yet none have been imported into the UK and the fish have still not been seen on import order lists.