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Researchers Express Optimism Over Transgenic Chinese Carp

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CHINA - Chinese researchers who created a rapidly growing giant transgenic carp have expressed cautious optimism it will one day land on dining tables.

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The fish, dubbed guanli (crown carp) by its creators, was shown to the public during an international life science conference in Beijing in November, reports the SouthChinaMorningPost.

“The enormous crown carp caught the audience’s attention,” Professor Hu Wei, a lead scientist in the research conducted at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Wuhan-based Institute of Hydrobiology, wrote in an article on the academy’s website.

The transgenic carp could grow to adult size twice as fast as common carp, he wrote. And it ate almost everything, from microorganisms to grass, and would thus be easy to grow in a fish farm.

The researchers mixed the genes of a fast-growing, grass-eating carp with an omnivorous species to create the traits.

The transgenic species was first created in the 1980s, according to information on the institute’s website. In the following decades the research team conducted biosecurity investigations that concluded the transgenic species was as safe to eat as natural carp species.

They also developed a way to make the transgenic carp’s offspring infertile, reducing the environmental risk if the alien species escaped into nature. They called the infertile species jili (lucky carp).

From a scientific point of view, the transgenic carp species was ready for commercialisation, Hu wrote.

The institute signed a contract with Dahu Aquaculture, one of the biggest freshwater product suppliers in China, in July with a view to accelerating the commercialisation of crown and lucky carp.

The Hunan-based company said plans for large-scale experimental breeding were still awaiting final approval from the Ministry of Agriculture.