NOV 03, 2017 5:37 PM PDT

Engineering a Low-fat Pig

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Pigs have to be plumped up for slaughter, but overdoing it makes raising them very expensive. A fat pig needs more help staying warm and has to have a heated pen, while a skinny pig might die if it gets too cold because it is not able to regulate its body temperature well. The idea is a happy medium for a happy pig and better meat.

Scientists in China used a new gene-editing technique called CRISPR to insert a mouse gene into pig embryos, which ended up with about 24 percent less body fat than normal pigs. After they were six months old, autopsies were performed, and they were found to have tissue and organs that seemed normal.

While these pigs will not be approved by the FDA because of their genetic modification, the project has shown that it may be possible to engineer better meat through genetic editing. We still have to do more work to ensure that this kind of meat would be safe for human consumption, and then we have to convince people to try it.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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