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GM Livestock - A Market Reality and an Advantage

by 5m Editor
7 March 2008, at 9:32am

ONTARIO - Behind locked doors, past a shower, where humans are required to rinse, more than 25 pink pigs crowd into hay-covered pens at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. They look like regular Yorkshire pigs, however, these pigs have been modified to carry a gene from an innocuous strain of E. coli that has been spliced with a protein from a mouse, writes Rebecca Clarren.

This added gene enables the animals to produce the enzyme phytase in their saliva. An enzyme that Guelph researchers, could solve one of the major environmental problems associated with industrial pig farms. Trademarked the 'Enviropig', these genetically modified pigs produce 60 percent less phosphorus in their manure than their conventional cousins.

Normal pigs can't break down phytate, a phosphorus-rich compound in their gut, explains a report on Salon.com. And, when manure lagoons on hog factories overflow or breach into nearby rivers or seep into groundwater, the high phosphorus content creates algae blooms, killing fish and other marine life.

Although these pigs been raised at Guelph for seven years, they haven't made it out of the lab. American and Canadian regulatory agencies have no regulations governing the keeping or management of genetically engineered animals'in the marketplace. However, a landmark law recently passed by the US Food and Drug Administration, means these little piggies may soon be headed to market.

Safety Endorsed

In January, the FDA declared that cloned animals and their progeny were safe to eat and it opened the door to genetic engineering.

"In my opinion, the FDA approved animal cloning only to open the door to genetic engineering of animals," said Jaydee Hanson of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington, DC, group.

The FDA reached the decision after reviewing hundreds of scientific studies that found no significant nutritional or toxicological differences in the composition of the meat or milk of cloned cows, pigs and goats from those of their more traditional brethren.

The decision is regarded as the first step to the regulation and commercialization of genetically engineered animals. It has critics but it also has supported, says the report.

To read the full story click here.

5m Editor