Fluorescent Fish Will Become First Genetically Engineered Pet in U.S.

If genetically engineered food ruffles your feathers, get a load of this: The nation’s first genetically altered pet, a glow-in-the-dark tropical zebra fish, made its public debut on Friday. Developed by a Texas company and intended to be sold for about $5 a pop in pet stores, the patented GloFish owe their red fluorescence to a gene transferred from a sea anemone. The fish were originally engineered to detect environmental toxins, but have now been licensed to be sold as pets. A coalition of enviro groups is arguing that the fish should be reviewed by federal regulators before being sold because they could upset the ecological balance of waterways if people dump out their aquariums. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with regulating genetically engineered animals intended for the food supply, but its role in relation to ornamental fish is unclear. Meanwhile, researchers are working on other genetically engineered pets, including an allergen-free cat.