Irish aquarium trade warned over GM fish imports

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned the aquarium trade in Ireland to be on the lookout for genetically modified fish after confirming a recent illegal import.

In a statement issued via an advertisement in Practical Fishkeeping magazine, the EPA said that following a recent incidence of the importation of GM aquarium fish it was reminding importers in the Republic of Ireland that imports of the fish were in breach of National and European law.

The EPA said that under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations of 2003, introduction of the fish into aquariums did qualify as a form of deliberate release and was subsequently illegal.

The EPA's statement said that importers who had received shipments of Zebra danios (Danio rerio) or Glowlight danios (Danio choprae/choprai) from outside the EU, particularly Indonesia, should "check whether the particular product has the capacity to fluoresce, ie. 'glow under darkness.'"

However, genetically modified fish do not actually fluoresce unless they are held under a specific type of aquarium lighting, such as black light or actinic, which means dealers could potentially still miss the fish.

While genetically modified Zebra danios are typically pink in colour, the Glowlight danio, which is a wild-type variety, is naturally a pinkish-orange in colour, despite not being genetically modified.

Practical Fishkeeping is not aware of the existence of genuine Danio choprai carrying a fluorescence gene, but a spokesman from the EPA confirmed that the names published in its statement reflected the names used elsewhere to import fish that later turned out to be GM.