Genetically Modified Pigs for Human Consumption

Researchers at the University of Geulph in Ontario, Canada have been working on a project called Enviropig since 1999.  Their goal is to genetically alter a Yorkshire pig with specific DNA from mice and the E. coli bacteria, producing a pig that excretes about 50% fewer phosphates in its feces.

This aspect is great for the environment because pig feces are used by farmers as fertilizer.  When it rains, the phosphates in pig manure find their way to underground water and pollute lakes, streams and ponds.  Fewer phosphates in the water means less algae is produced that can starve fish of oxygen. 

The researchers also want to introduce the pig for human consumption.  That lofty goal is still a few years in the future, given the requirements from agencies like the FDA

For years, there have been many opponents of genetically modified crops. GM crops are modified to be drought- and insect-resistant.  They are also being engineered to increase yield, thereby making more food available.

Science is a great thing.  But science and industry need to find a balance through ethics and regulations.  Last year, there was a lot of contention about GM salmon.  Now, it looks like pigs may find their way to your plate in the not-so-distant future.

Care2 blogger Sharon Seltzer raised a valid point that “…no one is considering that the GM salmon are real, living beings that will be affected by this process.”  The same goes for pigs.

By altering a creature’s DNA, scientists are artificially expediting the Mendelian process.  Currently, Enviropig ™ is at the ninth generation.  Most likely, nature would never have mixed DNA from mice with pigs, and e. coli would never have found its way into the nucleus of a porcine ovum. 

Then there is the quandary about animal welfare for farm animals.  Wouldn’t genetically altering plants for a world food source be more humane than developing a super breed of pigs to feed the hungry?  What’s next: GM cows, chickens and turkeys?  Animals are already being exploited in factory farms.

With the earth’s human population about to break the 7 billion mark, addressing world hunger is a noble goal, and certainly finding ways to care for our environment by causing less pollution is just as important.
Why does it have to be at the personal expense of an innocent animal’s life, though?  If humans are as brilliant and highly evolved as we think we are, there must be a way to solve world issues without forcing animals to bear the brunt of our experimental curiosity.

Related Stories:

Genetically Modified Salmon: Will It Be On Your Dinner Table?
Indians Resist Government Fast-tracking of GM Crops
Genetically Modified Fish: It’s What’s For Dinner!

Flicker: Jon Bragg


William C
William C8 months ago


W. C
W. C8 months ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago


LMj Sunshine
James Merit4 years ago


Claire M.
Claire M5 years ago

All of the things mentioned in the article as past tense are still big issues now. Also there is a big push to force labeling of GMO to consumers, who if they have a choice are going to refuse to buy it. This is not going to go away and we will show you that this is not the solution to the problem of forming farms in such a way that they over burden the environment and create inhumane conditions for animals.

Laurita Walters
Laurita Walters5 years ago

"Wouldn’t genetically altering plants for a world food source be more humane than developing a super breed of pigs to feed the hungry? What’s next: GM cows... "

I think the problem with gm plants for world food source is that they can be non-reproductive, giving a few people who are insanely greedy, all the viable seeds for that plant. Then no one can grow it themselves, cause they can't get seeds! Pollen from gm corn (for instance) can blow onto a neighbor's plot and prevent the neighbor's corn from producing viable seeds. While it may be a wonderful thing in some areas, it would probably have the end effect of destroying autonomy even further.

I think there are gm cows trying to make milk like humans, for bottle babies without formulas.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado5 years ago

GM pigs? No way.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I am a vegetarian, and I love intelligent pigs, as animals. The effects of all these GE products, be they vegetable or animal, are unknown, and you and your offspring will eat them at your own peril. The thing I am most concerned about, is governments (our own, included), putting these products into the marketplace without marking that they are GE (altered) products, so unsuspecting consumers will buy them, with no knowledge of what they're getting. TOTALLY UNETHICAL. Contact the Prez and your Congress, and tell them to rescind Monsanto's GE products: alfalfa, sugar beets, and corn, ... and whatever the hell, is NEXT on the agenda!!

Paul S.
Paul S.6 years ago

GMOs are like introduced species - except they are foreign to our entire biosphere. The genes within them haven't gradually evolved to work together, they are being crammed into place, and who the hell knows how they will act.
Nobody does, that's the tragedy, because lots of "experts" assure us there is nothing to worry about (which often happens to distract us from all the things there are to worry about).

If an alien creature were to crash land on earth, would you eat that? Then why eat something about as foreign to our food chain?

Walter G.
Walter G6 years ago

In either case, the pigs themselves nor the swine trying to force them down our throats.