Application of biotechnology to aquatic organisms has been an area of
dramatic technical advancement. Finfish and shellfish can be genetically
modified through gene transfer, chromosome set manipulation, interspecific
hybridization, and other methods. Development and use of genetically
engineered aquatic organisms (aquatic GE organisms) pose both benefits and ecological
risks. Science-based assessment and management of any such risk is needed
for environmentally responsible use of aquatic GE organisms.
With input from a wide range of aquatics sciences professionals, a
U.S. Department of Agriculture-sanctioned working group developed the
Performance Standards for Safely Conducting Research with Genetically
Modified Fish and Shellfish as a tool for risk assessment and risk management. The Performance Standards were
approved in 1995 by the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Advisory
Committee of the USDA. These standards have been distributed widely as a two
booklet set and are expected to guide evaluations of the performance and environmental safety of
aquatic GEs in the United States and abroad.