GENET archive


5 - Animals: Environmental Friendly Pigs???

Title: 5 - Animals: Environmental Friendly Pigs???

Extracted from Yahoo News of June 24:

And This Little Piggy Was Environmentally Friendly
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian scientists have genetically engineered what they say is an environmentally friendly pig.
Researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario, call it the Enviropig, and said Wednesday it should produce manure that is 20 to 50 percent lower in phosphorous than that from normal pigs.

Phosphorous pollutes rivers, streams and lakes because it promotes algae growth, which in turn robs water and fish of oxygen.

Enviropigs are Yorkshire pigs with pieces of DNA inside the nucleus of each cell that contains bits of mouse and bacteria.

In the past two months transgenic, or DNA-modified piglets by the names of Jacques, Gordie and Wayne -- named after Canadian hockey players -- have been born to surrogate sows.

This is likely the first time animals have been engineered to solve environmental problems, but the researchers admitted it was the profit motive that prompted pork producers to fund the project through the Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board.

``Pork producers live under very stringent environmental regulations and can only raise so many hogs per hectare,'' said John Phillips, molecular biologist at Guelph University

If the phosphorous found in a pig's manure is reduced by 50 percent, then theoretically farmers can raise 50 percent more pigs and still meet environmental restrictions.

In North America, Europe and in some parts of Asia, the only thing holding back a farmer's hog output is the restrictions on phosphorous leaching into the water table, Phillips said.

``In the Netherlands, the environmental limitations on the number of animals they can raise per hectare of land is just squeezing that industry,'' he added.

The Enviropig is at least four years away from commercialization and will need to meet regulations for novel food under the Canadian Food and Drugs Act before being approved for human consumption.

Phillips said one of his three piglets will reproduce sometime in December, and researchers will wait for another generation to be born with the modified gene before butchering an animal to test meat quality.

Ontario Pork, which has invested C$270,000 to date on the project, has exclusive rights to license and distribute the pig to producers worldwide.

Huib de Vriend
stichting Consument en Biotechnologie
Postbus 1000
2500 BA Den Haag
The Netherlands
phone: +31 70 44 54 498
fax: +31 70 44 54 592