Scientists in Beijing, China just genetically engineered pigs with 24% body fat. They claim this will help farmers grow pigs faster, healthier, and cheaper. Seems like they're willing to mess with the law of nature for higher short-term profits, yet are there any hidden long-term costs?
Pig x Mice = Low-Fat Pork?
By genetically adding mice proteins (UCP1) into pig embryos using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology, the pigs were able to grow "brown fat" rather than their natural "white fat." That's Brown fat is found in most mammals, keeps us warm, and burns energy. White fat is cooler and basically lard, so pigs would need more of it to stay warm.
After growing these brown-fat-pigs for 6 months, they had 24% less fat than regular pigs. They weighed about the same but had a leaner muscle to fat ratio.
That may sound good but will they taste as good? Is it healthy? What potential health risks may be within the lean porky surface?
You may not see these lean genetically modified pig meats in your local supermarket any time soon because the lab's success rate is only 12 out of 2,553 so far. But this may be a good thing because eating GMO foods is known to cause a variety of illnesses like
"I very much doubt that this particular pig will ever be imported into the USA,” R. Michael Roberts, an animal sciences professor at the University of Missouri who edited the PNAS paper, told NPR.
If you want a leaner diet, just cut off the extra fat, eat a leaner meat, or eat more vegetables. And, of course, avoid GMO foods all together.