Safety Evaluation of Transgenic Tilapia with Accelerated Growth
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Recent advances in modern marine biotechnology have permitted the generation of new strains of economically important fish species through the transfer of growth hormone genes. These transgenic fish strains show improved growth performance and therefore constitute a better alternative for aquaculture programs. Recently, we have obtained a transgenic tilapia line with accelerated growth. However, before introducing this line into Cuban aquaculture, environmental and food safety assessment was required by national authorities. Experiments were performed to evaluate the behavior of transgenic tilapia in comparison to wild tilapia as a way to assess the environmental impact of introducing transgenic tilapia into Cuban aquaculture. Studies were also conducted to evaluate, according to the principle of substantial equivalence, the safety of consuming transgenic tilapia as food. Behavior studies showed that transgenic tilapia had a lower feeding motivation and dominance status than controls. Food safety assessment indicated that tilapia growth hormone has no biological activity when administered to nonhuman primates. Furthermore, no effects were detected in human healthy volunteers after the consumption of transgenic tilapia. These results showed, at least under the conditions found in Cuba, no environmental implications for the introduction of this transgenic tilapia line and the safety in the consumption of tiGH-transgenic tilapia as an alternative feeding source for humans. These results support the culture and consumption of these transgenic tilapia.
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