Dear Forum Members,
Conference 4, on the appropriateness of currently available biotechnologies for the fishery sector in developing countries, of the FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture began on 1st August. It is planned that it will run until the end of September, so there are just over 2 weeks left. The aim of this e-mail is to briefly summarise progress in the conference.
Over 130 people have joined the conference. There were 4 messages posted in August and 14 posted so far in September (see http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/c4logs.htm ).
In the Background Document to the conference, a brief description of the currently available biotechnologies was provided. These include molecular markers (for management of genetic resources, detection of quantitative trait loci or for marker-assisted selection), induction of polyploidy, sex-reversal and creation of single sex groups of fish, hybridisation, selective breeding, freezing of male gametes, genetic modification of fish, and DNA-based technologies to diagnose and characterise fish pathogens and to develop vaccines.
The 18 messages posted so far have focused overwhelmingly on genetic modification of fish. The technologies of triploidisation and sex-reversal have also been discussed, but only in relation to their use with genetically modified (GM) fish.
A range of potential factors (such as the impact on human health, the status with respect to intellectual property rights, the cost or capacity-building required) influencing the appropriateness of the different biotechnologies were also mentioned in the Background Document. One factor has however dominated discussions: the ecological risk or environmental impact that GM fish could have. These discussions have considered the situations where the GM fish are introduced into ecosystems where the wild species already exists or does not exist and whether triploidisation (and thus sterilisation) of the GM fish would reduce the ecological risk.
In the remaining 15 days of the conference, we would appreciate it if some of the other biotechnologies and other factors (determining their appropriateness) were also included in the discussions and we would love to see more active participation in the discussions from members in developing countries.
The Forum Administrator
p.s. for those wishing to join Conference 4 and who have not yet done so, simply send an e-mail message to [email protected] leaving the subject blank and entering the one-line text message as follows: -