Enviropigs - good for environment
Scientists at the University of
Guelph have genetically engineered a group of 21 hogs living at the university so
their manure will be less polluting as a conventional
The intention is that the Enviropigs' pork will be
marketed as good for the environment.
No one has eaten it yet, but the scientists say the
pork should taste like any other pig. They "look like regular pigs, they act
like other pigs, and they regrettably smell like other pigs," said Cecil
Forsberg, one of the Guelph scientists.
The US Food and Drug Administration is considering an
application from the university to allow the pork to go to market. The FDA
recently proposed guidelines for regulating genetically engineered animals such
as the Enviropigs, but consumer activists say the rules are inadequate: The
guidelines won't require developers to disclose key details, such as what genes
have been used to give the animals their distinctive traits, and food from the
animals won't have to be labelled.
Even if the FDA approves the
Enviropigs or other biotech animals, it's unclear whether farmers and processors
will consider commercialising them. The consumer-demand for high-tech foods is
not yet evident.
"We more often hear the cries for something that is
closer back to nature," said Scott Eilert, vice president for research and
development at Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., one of the largest U.S.
meatpackers. Eilert didn't rule out marketing biotech meat, but he said it is
"hard for me to imagine today."
Canadian scientists think their Enviropigs would provide a public benefit. The
pigs produce an enzyme in their saliva that can digest the phosphorus in their
That's good for the environment because it means less phosphorus
winds up in the manure and potentially fouls rivers and streams. The pigs also
could cost slightly less to feed because they don't need a phosphorus
Source: Gannett News Service
• University of
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