VitargentA startup in Hong Kong is hoping to use light-up fish embryos to improve food safety. The company, Vitargent, engineered medaka and zebrafish embryos to turn fluorescent green or develop tumors in the presence of harmful substances called Estrogenic Endocrine Disruptors (EEDs). The technology can screen for more than 1,000 chemicals such as DDT and BPA at one time, and it can be used to test not only in food and drinks, but in cosmetics and skin care products as well. Traditional product safety tests usually only test five to 10 toxins at a time. Vitargent founder and executive director Eric Chen told the South China Morning Post that the fish have DNA very similar to that of humans, so they are susceptible to the same toxins. “While chemical-specific tests can be sensitive and precise, they are also very narrow and will not detect toxicants for which the analyst is not specifically looking for,” Chen told Tech in Asia. “Unanticipated toxicants usually go undetected because time, cost, and incomplete knowledge prevent chemical specific testing from being a practical screen for toxicity.” Vitargent is now cultivating transgenic medaka and zebrafish at Hong Kong Science Park’s laboratory and is also planning to establish fish farms in mainland China and Europe. The company hopes that it can help China get its food safety under control after numerous contamination scandals. “Businesses are so creative they will add anything you can imagine to our food and drink,” Chen told the Post.