GM pig project faces criticism

A project in Canada has developed genetically modified pigs that could be among the first to be approved for human consumption.

Enviropig is the brainchild of scientists at the University of Guelph and it has created an animal that contains genes from mice and E.coli bacteria. The specimens are also able to digest phosphates – which means the pigs are cheaper to feed and less polluting.

The Canadian government has approved the animal for production and breeding in laboratories – but as yet it has not been allowed into the food chain.

Supporters claim the animal could help in the battle to feed the ever-growing human population. But critics of GM food believe the animals could lead to more intensive pig farms.

Professor Rich Moccia, of the University of Guelph, told the BBC yesterday: “It's the forefront of discovery in the scientific community.

“It's one of only two animals right now using this kind of technology. It really is mind-boggling when you think of it."

The project has also won the support of fellow academic Dr Mart Gross, from the University of Toronto.

He said: “We need to double food production. We currently have a global population of almost seven billion and we are looking at nine, 10 or 11 billion by 2050.

"Where is that food going to come from? We have to produce more from less."

However, news of the GM pig scheme has faced criticism here in the UK. Vicky Hird, of Friends of the Earth, said the name Enviropig “was a huge irony”.

She added: “Pigs reared in these intensive units can never be sustainable, because they require so much soya, which is grown by clearing forests, leading to more greenhouse gases being released.

“And when it comes to GM food, consumers are voting with their feet. They won’t accept it.”

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