A team of Chinese researchers were able to obtain low-fat bacon using the latest genetic engineering techniques. Researchers reported Monday that they were able to obtain a dozen pigs with one-quarter less body fat than regular pigs.
Researchers said they tweaked the animals in a bid to make them less costly to raise and help them better survive in cold weather. A research paper detailing the experiment appeared this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lead author Jianguo Zhao hopes that the low-fat animals will be a boon to the pig industry. “It’s pretty exciting,” the researcher added.
Scientists explained that their pigs are leaner than normal pigs because they altered a gene that can enable the animals keep themselves warm in cold weather by burning fat. The enhanced pigs could help the industry save millions of dollars and prevent millions of animals from dying because of low temperatures.
Low-Fat Bacon Unlikely to Land on Americans’ Plates
Independent experts deemed the advance “technologically quite important” since it can improve the animals’ lives, help farmers save money in heating costs, and improve the meat.
However, it is very unlikely for the FDA to approve the genetically-altered animals in the U.S. or Americans to consume such meat. The only genetically-modified animal approved by U.S. authorities is a salmon, but the process took decades because of criticism from food-safety groups.
GMO supporters are confident that genetically-tweaked livestock could help feed the planet. The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion in three decades.
Chinese researchers said that they “assume” the meat of the new pigs tastes the same as the meat from regular animals. They added that they tweaked a pig breed that is known for the quality of its meat. The improved animals were produced via CRISPR-Cas9, the most advanced gene-editing method.
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