Genetically modified salmon could escape into the wild with devastating consequences for the ecosystem, a new study has warned.
Researchers from Canada say that there is a risk of GM salmon mating with the closely-related brown trout species to produce a hybrid fish. GM salmon grow faster than normal salmon and scientists observed that their hybrid offspring grow even faster allowing them to out-compete existing species for food.
In a mocked-up stream in the laboratory the GM offspring took the majority of available food, significantly stunting the growth of GM salmon and wild salmon. This highlighted the ecological consequences should genetically modified fish get into the wild, the scientists said.
Dr Darek Moreau, from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, said: "This was likely a result of competition for limited food resources."
The GM salmon was created by biotech firm AquaBounty. The company said the risks to the environment were negligible as the fish were all female and sterile. Additionally they would be kept in tanks on land.
The US Food and Drug Administration is at its final stage of considering whether GM salmon should go on sale.