November 19, 2008

Canada's researchers look to market "enviropig"

Canadian researchers have created a new breed of pig "enviropig", whose genetically modified digestive system is able to produce cleaner manure.

Pig manure contains high levels of phosphorus that causes water pollution and harms marine life.


Targetting that problem, the enviropig keeps more phosphorus in its belly, reducing the concentration in manure by about 60 percent, according to developer John Phillips. The pig's modified DNA code instructs the salivary glands to produce an enzyme that digests the chemical. The pig could also lower feed cost as it do not require a phosphorus supplement.


The genetically engineered pig has not entered the market yet because regulatory obstacles in Canada and the US have held back the release.


The concerns involve the safety of genetically engineered meat, though Phillips and some food producers argue that the meat can cut costs for farmers and consumers. Potential applications of genetically engineered meat include fast growing salmon and cattle that are resistant to mad cow disease.


The Food and Drug Administration took a step toward approving genetically engineered meat with draft guidelines for approval in September, but no timeframe for a definitive stance is available.

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