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Will You Be Serving Genetically Modified Meat On Your Table?


Officially no genetically modified animal has been bred, slaughtered and served for human consumption. This is due to a series of legal processes in all countries. However, several scientific institutions have been working on the process. Animals being studied include fish, pigs and cows.

The most advanced research has been with transgenic salmon. Here the experiments are pretty much finished. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to make a decision as to whether such salmon can be sold in stores. The modified Atlantic salmon is fast-growing and said to be of a better condition and taste compared with conventionally bred equivalents. One company, AquaBounty Technologies of Maynard, Massachusetts, U.S., has reportedly consistently developed genetically engineered fish.

This month researchers from China and South Korea have reported on a breakthrough in creating so-called ‘double-muscled’ pigs. These are pigs with more fat and which develop faster. The researchers are not intending, should approval ever be given, to rear the pigs for meat but as animals for breeding, with the hope of raising the meat content of various porcine stocks.

The super-pigs were achieved, Nature reports, by altering a gene that inhibits muscle fat, called myostatin, so that the inhibitor was removed. This means that pigs that have undergone the modification can produce more muscle (or ‘meat’.) The studies are still at the early experimental stage.

Back in 2014, a different team of scientists announced that, by using gene editing, they had ‘created’ new breeds of double-muscled cows and sheep. These findings were published in the journal Transgenic Research (“Genome edited sheep and cattle.”) Again the myostatin gene was targeted.

Most of the investment into genetically modified animals to be used as a food-source has been taking place in China and this will probably be the first country in the world to give meat reared in this way the green-light. Would you try it?

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.