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.

straight to the source: New York Times, Andrew Pollack, 22 Nov 2003
straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Kenneth R. Weiss, 22 Nov 2003


EPA Won't Restrict Use of Potentially Harmful Weed Killer

Talk about scary stuff: On Oct. 31, as people across the U.S. were
getting ready to don costumes and pass out Halloween candy, the Bush
administration announced that it would not impose new restrictions on
the commonly used herbicide atrazine, which has been associated with
low sperm counts and prostate cancer in men and sex-organ deformities
in frogs. The European Union recently decided to ban atrazine, but
the U.S. EPA said on Friday that it saw no grounds for restricting
the chemical's use. The agency did announce a new plan for testing a
handful of waterways for atrazine, but that testing will be done by
the primary manufacturer of the chemical, Syngenta, a large
agribusiness company. "Instead of requiring a polluter to stop
polluting, EPA is cutting a deal with the corporation to let them off
the hook," said Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Emily Green, 01 Nov 2003
Bush Administration Plans to Ease Sewage-Treatment Rules

More disease-carrying microbes from doo-doo could contaminate U.S.
waterways, lakes, and coastlines if the Bush administration proceeds
with plans to loosen sewage-treatment requirements. This week, the
U.S. EPA intends to unveil a proposed rule change that would let many
communities skip a sewage-treatment step after storms cause an
increased flow of wastewater; the public will have 60 days to comment
on the proposal. Many local sewage-treatment plants don't have the
capacity to handle storm-water surges and it would cost billions to
make upgrades at these facilities. But the looser rules would lead
to more viruses and parasites in water, says Nancy Stoner of the
Natural Resources Defense Council, a group that's pushing for the
federal government to help communities boost capacity at the nation's
sewage plants.

straight to the source: USA Today, Peter Eisler, 03 Nov 2003