US approves genetically modified pigs for food chain in trial |

Washington State University (WSU) researchers are making history after receiving FDA approval from the US Food Safety Authority to allow genetically modified pigs to enter the food chain for human consumption.

In fact, according to the university, it’s important for a university to work with federal regulators to set a precedent for introducing farm animals into the food supply. WSU researchers used the CRISPR-CAS gene editing tool to improve the genetic traits of five pigs. With approval, these genetically modified pigs could be introduced into the human food chain to demonstrate that it is safe and feasible to consume food produced from genetically modified animals.

Gene editing can make changes to an organism’s DNA that can occur naturally or through selective breeding, but without CRISPR-CAS takes much longer. The university is also working to obtain FDA approval for a line of genetically modified pigs.

Characteristics that are quickly desired

FDA approval is for research only and for pigs, but the university says their gene-edited pigs demonstrate editing of genes to rapidly develop desirable traits for improved food production to help feed the world’s growing population.

Pigs were processed at two years of age at the WSU Meat Laboratory. After a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection, a meat scientist turned some of the pork into German-style sausages. Researchers grilled the sausages and found no difference in taste, texture or nutrients.

Surrogate ancestors

The pigs are genetically engineered to allow researchers to use them to transfer to another male pig through a technique known as surrogate progenitors. The technique first renders CRISPER-CAS pigs sterile by knocking out NANOS2, a gene specific to male fertility. The genetics of these animals can then be implanted into the stem cells of another pig that produces sperm and the desired traits can be passed on to the next generation.

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According to the context

This ‘rental pig technology’, according to the researchers, has the potential to improve meat quality, as well as the health and resilience of pigs to changing environmental conditions, with the main objective of increasing protein sources in developing countries.

The offspring of non-genetically modified surrogates have not yet been evaluated by the FDA for potential entry into the food chain. The researchers put a lot of effort into getting research approval for these five pigs.

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