Genes of mice are used to make pork

China Daily European Weekly - - Business - Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sciences of the United States.

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

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