“Snort! Snort!” The plump, pink beast comes rumbling towards me as I approach, then attaches its snout to my leg, sniffing intensely, apparently trying to determine if I bring food.
It looks like a Yorkshire pig, behaves, sounds and smells like one. But genetically the pigs at Canada’s University of Guelph swine research laboratory are different. They are “greener”, emitting a smaller quantity of pollutants in their manure. Thus, their creators named the species, “Enviropig.” And they hope one day the Enviropig’s descendents may be on your dinner plate.
“Certainly one of the goals of the technology is to produce a pig which could be consumed by humans and enter the food chain,” said Richard Moccia, Professor of Animal Science and Associate Vice President of Research at the University of Guelph. “We have done extensive testing on the various internal organs and different meat cuts from the Enviropig, looked at the nutritional content and the amount of protein and fat and minerals and other things contained in the pig. They’re identical to a normal Yorkshire pig.”
What does “genetically modified” really mean?
But no one has ever eaten an Enviropig, said Moccia. It’s not permitted yet. Though scientists first produced the pig in 1999, the University of Guelph conducted extensive testing before applying for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2007 and Canadian food and health regulators the following year. The University expects the FDA will be first to act and believe the agency is about half-way through its analysis, though the FDA won’t say.
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