Transgenic Pork

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by [email protected], Mar 27, 2006.


    Why the the fat from this little piggy could be good for us
    By Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent
    A HEALTHY form of bacon, ham and even pork scratchings could soon be
    available after the cloning of pigs genetically modified to produce
    beneficial fats.

    The piglets have been enhanced with a gene from a nematode worm to give
    their meat up to five times the normal level of omega 3 fatty acids. A
    diet rich in these fats, usually found in fish and vegetable oils, has
    been linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of heart
    disease and stroke, suggesting that the pigs' meat could be sold as a
    healthier option.

    The pigs - three of which were named Salmon, Tuna and Trout after
    fish high in omega 3 fats - are the first cloned livestock that can
    make the beneficial compounds. The success, by a research team in the
    US, paves the way for a new era of animal breeding, in which animals
    are genetically engineered to make their meat healthier.

    While GM and cloned meat is not approved for human consumption in the
    US or Britain, scientists are working on chicken, beef and fish with
    enhanced omega 3 fat content. Jing Kang, of Harvard University, said:
    "I think we will be eating transgenic animals in the near future.
    Livestock with a healthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids may be
    a promising way to rebalance the diet without relying on diminishing
    fish supplies or supplements."

    Meat is generally low in omega 3 fatty acids and high in omega 6 fatty
    acids, which do not have the same healthy properties. Fish such as
    salmon and tuna are omega 3 rich, but some scientists are concerned
    about people eating a lot of such fish because they contain toxic heavy
    metals such as mercury, and because of the pressure on collapsing fish

    While the beneficial effects of omega 3 fats were challenged in a study
    published last week, the Food Standards Agency recommends that people
    eat at least a portion of oily fish and a portion of white fish every

    The new research, which will be published in the journal Nature
    Biotechnology, suggests that GM pork could be another option. "While
    fish is one of the best food sources of omega 3 fatty acids, we have
    been warned to limit consumption because of high mercury levels," said
    Yifan Dai of the University of Pittsburgh, the study's lead author.
    "These animals could represent an alternative source."

    In the study, a group led by Dr Dai, Dr Kang and Professor Randall
    Prather of the University of Minnesota, genetically modified pig cells
    to express a gene called fat-1, which is normally found in the nematode
    worm Caenorhabditis elegans, and which converts omega 6 fats into omega

    They then cloned embryos from the transgenic pig cells, producing ten
    male piglets. Of these, six tested positive for the fat-1 gene, and
    three - Salmon, Tuna and Trout - also had between four and five
    times the normal level of omega 3 fatty acids in their bodies.

    Though two of these three had to be put down because of a heart
    abnormality - probably a side-effect of the cloning process - a
    further litter of eight was later cloned from Salmon, the pig with the
    best omega 3 profile. All of these pigs were healthy, and had the
    enhanced omega 3 content.

    Dr Kang said that in the longer run, it would not be necessary to clone
    pigs. Once a founder population had been established, these could be
    used to breed in the normal way.

    As well as their potential for producing healthier meat, the GM animals
    have value as laboratory models for investigating the effects of omega
    3 fatty acids on heart function.

    "Pigs and human beings have a similar physiology," Professor Prather
    said. "We could use these animals as a model to see what happens to
    heart health if we increase the omega 3 levels in the body. It could
    allow us to see how that helps the heart.

    "If these animals are put into the food chain, there could be other
    benefits. First, the pigs could have better cardiovascular function and
    therefore live longer, which would limit livestock loss for farmers.
    Second, they could be healthier for human consumption."

  2. Anthony

    Anthony Guest

  3. Ken Kubos

    Ken Kubos Guest

    The Frankenpigs are coming.

    I LIKE Frankenpigs.... omega-3 fatty acids!! Wow!!


    "Buddhism elucidates why we are sentient."
    "Karma means that you don't get away with anything."

    "Anthony" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    | [email protected] wrote:
    | >,,2-2105400,00.html
    | >
    | > The piglets have been enhanced with a gene from a nematode worm to give
    | > their meat up to five times the normal level of omega 3 fatty acids.
    | Aaaarrrgh! The Frankenpigs are coming. Flee!
  4. Opinicus

    Opinicus Guest

    "Anthony" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]

    >> The piglets have been enhanced with a gene from a nematode worm to give

    > Aaaarrrgh! The Frankenpigs are coming. Flee!

    Sounds like something from a "Pigs in space" episode from the old Muppets

    I wonder if the Frankenpigs will have wings, too?

  5. Opinicus wrote:
    > I wonder if the Frankenpigs will have wings, too?

    Of course. Those genes are brought in from the buffalos
    not the worms, though. ;^)

    Definitely time for a new umbrella over the picnic table in
    the back yard! I can no longer depend on the poem "Gee,
    I'm glad that pigs can't fly".