Genes of mice are used to make pork
The Chinese researchers successfully reared 12 piglets that carried the new gene.
They found the modified pigs stayed warmer in cold temperatures. Brown fat takes less energy to create, so the pigs need less food to grow.
“Pork is the number one meat consumed in China, so it’s an important industry,’’ says Zhao Jianguo, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an author of the report. “China spends a lot of money trying to improve economic production and efficiency in the pig industry.”
In the CRISPR/Cas9 system, special proteins act as a molecular “copy and paste” tool, targeting precise areas of DNA and removing or inserting genes.
Scientists have observed such proteins at work in the natural world for decades, and were first able to artificially replicate the system in human cell cultures three years ago.
The new research was published in the journal
John Speakman and Catherine Hambly of the UK’s Aberdeen University were involved in testing activity and energy consumption in the piglets. Sale of animals that have undergone gene editing is not yet licensed in China, though Zhao says the cutting-edge technology could become commonplace.
Many crops, including the majority of the world’s soy and maize, are now genetically modified after techniques were first developed in the 1980s, Zhao notes.
China accounts for half of all global pork consumption. It is restructuring the sector to boost domestic supply. Imports of pork have grown at an annual rate of 150 percent since 2007.
Genetically modified animals would cost less to feed, providing cheaper option for popular meat