This is Saturnina Halos of the Philippines, Department of Agriculture.
I would like to comment on the message of Dr. Muir [30 August] about the undesirability of introducing transgenic fish that may have obtained selective advantage over its wild relatives by being transgenic. I think this criteria should apply as well when introducing a new species, or even a conventionally-bred strain, into the wild. We have had experience in the Philippines of introductions of new catfish strains that have apparently caused the "disappearance" of the native catfish strain. In cases like this, have we lost genes or simply allelic combinations ? Is this not the more relevant issue, the loss of genes rather than just allelic combinations ? When a transgenic fish mates with a wild relative, are we not introducing further diversity ?
I am amazed that questions are raised only against transgenics when similar phenomenon could happen even with conventionally-bred or foreign breeds. On the other hand, the disappearance of other breeds of farm animals in farming households as well as those of old varieties from farmer's fields happens because farmers choose to grow new breeds or varieties. Hence, should we not concern ourselves more with how to preserve old breeds and varieties ? Otherwise, we should stop breeders from developing new breeds.
Saturnina C. Halos, Ph.D.
Senior Project Development Adviser(Biotechnology)
Bureau of Agricultural Research
Department of Agriculture
[To contribute to this conference, send your message to [email protected] For further information on the FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture see http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp ]