Tag Archives: EFSA

University of Liege study: The Australian government’s plan for the biocontrol of the common carp presents several risks

25 Feb

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) defines genetic modication of animals:

Genetically modified animals
Genetic modification of an animal involves altering its genetic material by adding, changing or removing certain DNA sequences in a way that does not occur naturally. It aims to modify specific characteristics of an animal or introduce a new trait, such as disease resistance or enhanced growth. DNA is the genetic material of an organism and carries the instructions for all the characteristics that an organism inherits. Changes introduced in an animal’s genetic make-up can therefore be transmitted to the next generation.
While this technology has so far been used in plants for agriculture and in micro-organisms to produce enzymes, the potential application of genetic modification techniques to animals is also being researched. Several international organisations, including FAO/WHO and the United States Food and Drug Administration, have already published guidelines for the safety assessment of these animals and their derived products…. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/genetically-modified-animals

See, We need to talk about genetically modifying animals https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2017/12/11/gmo-animals/?utm_term=.85b888a3c038

Science Daily reported in The Australian government’s plan for the biocontrol of the common carp presents several risks:

Belgian, English and Australian scientists are calling on the Australian authorities to review their decision to introduce the carp herpes virus as a way to combat the common carp having colonised the country’s rivers. In a letter published in the journal Science, they not only believe that this measure will be ineffective but that it also represents a risk to ecosystems.
On a global scale, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is one of the most important fish species in fish farming. Its annual production ranges between 4 and 5 million tonnes. Initially introduced to Australia for production in fish farms, the species has gradually colonised the rivers to the point of dominating the indigenous species. One of the methods proposed by the Australian government to reduce the number of carp is to release a virus which is deadly to this species, the cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3, also called the Koi herpesvirus or KHV) in rivers. However, scientists note that data currently available on the carp’s biology, the pathogeny of the virus and the ecology of Australian rivers suggests that this tactic will not be effective and could even represent a risk to ecosystems.
Before the large-scale release of the CyHV-3, which will be costly (the plan proposed has a budget of 18 million Dollars) and irreversible, assessments must be carried out on the virus’ actual capacity to sustainably reduce Australian carp populations living freely without harming the indigenous ecosystems.
The authors advocate for the introduction of limited testing to safely assess if the virus can effectively control carp populations without harming ecosystems.
The opinion of the scientists is notably based on work carried out for over a decade by Professor Alain Vanderplasschen from the Immunology and Vaccination Laboratory at the University of Liège who is behind the development of the first vaccine against CyHV-3…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180222145048.htm

Citation:

The Australian government’s plan for the biocontrol of the common carp presents several risks
Date: February 22, 2018
Source: University of Liege
Summary:
Scientists are calling on the Australian authorities to review their decision to introduce the carp herpes virus as a way to combat the common carp having colonized the country’s rivers. They not only believe that this measure will be ineffective but that it also represents a risk to ecosystems.

Journal References:
1. Jonathan Marshall, Andrew J. Davison, R. Keller Kopf, Maxime Boutier, Philip Stevenson, Alain Vanderplasschen. Biocontrol of invasive carp: Risks abound. Science, 2018; 359 (6378): 877.1 DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7827
2. Krzysztof Rakus, Maygane Ronsmans, Maria Forlenza, Maxime Boutier, M. Carla Piazzon, Joanna Jazowiecka-Rakus, Derek Gatherer, Alekos Athanasiadis, Frédéric Farnir, Andrew J. Davison, Pierre Boudinot, Thomas Michiels, Geert F. Wiegertjes, Alain Vanderplasschen. Conserved Fever Pathways across Vertebrates: A Herpesvirus Expressed Decoy TNF-α Receptor Delays Behavioral Fever in Fish. Cell Host & Microbe, 2017; 21 (2): 244 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.01.010

Here is the press release from the University of Liege:

The Australian government’s plan for the biocontrol of the common carp presents several risks
________________________________________
22 February 2018
In Research Press releases
________________________________________
Belgian, English and Australian scientists are calling on the Australian authorities to review their decision to introduce the carp herpes virus as a way to combat the common carp having colonised the country’s rivers. In a letter published in the journal Science, they not only believe that this measure will be ineffective but that it also represents a risk to ecosystems.
On a global scale, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is one of the most important fish species in fish farming. Its annual production ranges between 4 and 5 million tonnes. Initially introduced to Australia for production in fish farms, the species has gradually colonised the rivers to the point of dominating the indigenous species. One of the methods proposed by the Australian government to reduce the number of carp is to release a virus which is deadly to this species, the cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3, also called the Koi herpesvirus or KHV) in rivers. However, scientists note that data currently available on the carp’s biology, the pathogeny of the virus and the ecology of Australian rivers suggests that this tactic will not be effective and could even represent a risk to ecosystems. It is thanks to Professor Alain Vanderplasschen (FARAH research center) from the University of Liège that the prestigious scientific review Science asked to issue a scientific opinion on the Australian biocontrol plan (1).
Before the large-scale release of the CyHV-3, which will be costly (the plan proposed has a budget of 18 million Dollars) and irreversible, assessments must be carried out on the virus’ actual capacity to sustainably reduce Australian carp populations living freely without harming the indigenous ecosystems.
The authors advocate for the introduction of limited testing to safely assess if the virus can effectively control carp populations without harming ecosystems.
The opinion of the scientists is notably based on work carried out for over a decade by Professor Alain Vanderplasschen from the Immunology and Vaccination Laboratory at the University of Liège who is behind the development of the first vaccine against CyHV-3.
“The discovery in our laboratory of the beneficial role of the behavioural fever expressed by carp as well as other recent results indicate that the Australian government’s biocontrol plan will not meet its objectives. This may even cause serious damage to the ecosystems”, explains Professor Alain Vanderplasschen.
“By discussing this in Science, one of the world’s most respected scientific journals, we hope that the warning will not be ignored by the Australian authorities”, notes Professor Alain Vanderplasschen.
About Professor Alain Vanderplasschen
Professor Alain Vanderplasschen is the Director of the Immunology and Vaccinology Laboratory at the University of Liège’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. He has been Director of Research at the Belgian National Scientific Research Foundation. His research concerns host-pathogen relationships in the animal world. In 2016, he was the first veterinary doctor to receive the GSK Vaccines award for his work on the carp herpes virus. This work lead to the development of original veterinary vaccines. Meeting considerable challenges, the carp is one of the main fish reared for human consumption in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It’s a real economic and nutritional pillar for millions of people worldwide. At present, the laboratory is also working on eels, a new research axis comprising many scientific and economic challenges.
Scientific reference
Biocontrol of invasive carp: Risks abound, Science, 23 February 2018, doi 10.1126/science.aar7827
Other reference
(1) Conserved Fever Pathways across Vertebrates: A Herpesvirus Expressed Decoy TNF-α Receptor Delays Behavioural Fever in Fish, Cell Host & Microbe, 8 February 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2017.01.010
Read the Press release https://www.news.uliege.be/cms/c_9148637/fr/les-poissons-expriment-une-forme-de-fievre-apparentee-a-celle-de-l-homme
Contacts
Pr Alain Vanderplasschen, Immunology & Vaccinology – Faculty of Veterinay Medicine – FARAH Research Center
+32 (0)486 45 15 53 – a.vdplasschen@uliege.be
ULiège Press Department – +32 (0)494 57 25 30 – dmoreau@uliege.be

There are several ethical issues regarding genetic modification of species.

Linda MacDonald Glenn wrote in Ethical Issues in Genetic Engineering and Transgenics:

Ethical Issues
Transgenic biotechnology presents an exciting range of possibilities, from feeding the hungry to preventing and treating diseases; however, these promises are not without potential peril. Some of the issues that need to be considered are the following:
Social Concerns
• If the blending of animal and human DNA results, intentionally or not, in chimeric entities possessing degrees of intelligence or sentience never before seen in nonhuman animals, should these entities be given rights and special protections?
• What, if any, social and legal controls or reviews should be placed on such research?
• What unintended personal, social, and cultural consequences could result?
• Who will have access to these technologies and how will scarce resources—such as medical advances and novel treatments—be allocated?
Extrinsic Concerns
• What, if any, health risks are associated with transgenics and genetically modified foods?13
• Are there long-term effects on the environment when transgenic or genetically modified organized are released in the field?
• Should research be limited and, if so, how should the limits be decided? How should the limits be enforced nationally and internationally?
Intrinsic Concerns
• Are there fundamental issues with creating new species?
• Are species boundaries “hard” or should they be viewed as a continuum? What, if any, consequences are there of blurring species boundaries?
• Are chimeras and transgenics more likely to suffer than “traditional” organisms?
• Will transgenic interventions in humans create physical or behavioral traits that may or may not be readily distinguished from what is usually perceived to be “human”?
• What, if any, research in genetic engineering should be considered morally impermissible and banned (e.g., research undertaken for purely offensive military purposes)?14
• Will these interventions redefine what it means to be “normal”? http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotechnology/glenn.html

There are religious concerns regarding genetic modification as well.

The Church of Scotland discussed the religious issues in Moral and Ethical Issues in Gene Therapy:

Is it acceptable for human beings to manipulate human genes?
Are we Playing God?
What is a Human Being?
Hubris and Humanity
Back to Contents
Are we Playing God?
It is often asked whether it is right for human beings to manipulate human genes at all, as if this were in some sense “playing God” by altering fundamental aspects of human makeup (and also that of plants and animals) which are God’s prerogative only, or simply that it is a dangerous “tampering with nature” in a way which we have neither the right nor the skill to do? Christians have long viewed scientific research as a proper response to God’s commands to “fill the earth and subdue it” and to “work and take care of” the garden, illustrated in the touching and highly significant picture of Adam naming the animals. In relationship to God, humans are, as it were, invited to explore what he has created, in order to glorify him, to become better stewards of what he has made, to care better for our fellow humans and the other creatures we share the earth with, and to keep back the “thorns and thistles”.
If science is therefore a proper human activity, reflecting in some small part God’s own wisdom and creativity, and if technology is today its practical application, then it seems arbitrary to draw a line at the level of genetics, rather than, say, chemistry, nuclear physics or metallurgy, or at the level of gene therapy rather than pharmacology, radiation therapy or surgery. Some would go further and say that as a matter of very principle, technology can and must never be limited, as an expression of “the human spirit”, or in more Christian terminology, as the expression of the openness of God’s gift of human creativity. I would argue that Scripture, history and prudence all indicate the need to limit our creativity – that “can” does not imply “ought”. Key concepts within which to frame a biblical view in this area are the nature of human being, and the constraints on what is permissible in the context of relationship…. http://www.srtp.org.uk/srtp/view_article/moral_and_ethical_issues_gene_therapy

Genetic modification is truly a “Brave New World.”

Resources:

Genetic engineering of animals: Ethical issues, including welfare concerns https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078015/

Brief Summary of Genetic Engineering and Animals https://www.animallaw.info/article/brief-summary-genetic-engineering-and-animals

What are the animal welfare issues of genetic modification of farm animals? http://kb.rspca.org.au/what-are-the-animal-welfare-issues-of-genetic-modification-of-farm-animals_90.html

Genetic engineering of animals: Ethical issues, including welfare concerns https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51760394_Genetic_engineering_of_animals_Ethical_issues_including_welfare_concerns

Genetic engineering: Moral aspects and control of practice https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3454796/

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