The latest in GMO developments include baby pigs born from science, akin to the animals in Bong Joon-ho’s Okja.
While these piggies haven’t been modified to be the tasty, low-waste producing super pigs in Okja, they do contain less fat. According to NPR, scientists from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have developed 12 piggies that have 24 % less body fat compared to average pigs. These animals were modified to contain a gene that helps them maintain body temperatures by burning fat. This modification could help farmers save on heating expenses.
NPR reports that pigs naturally lack the UCP1 gene, which most mammals have, that regulates body temperatures. Scientists used the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 to grow pig cells that included this gene. Those cells were then used in 2,553 cloned pig embryos, which were then implanted in surrogate mothers.
Institute of Zoology researcher Jianguo Zhao headed the project, and told NPR that the team modeled the pigs after those “famous for the meat quality.” The pigs have yet to be tasted, but were slaughtered for analysis. All results were healthy.
America’s had a long love/hate relationship with GMO food. While modified salmon and potatoes have been approved by the FDA, attitudes towards GMOs are generally negative or unsure. So much so that Neil Degrasse Tyson narrated a documentary about the stuff. We’ll have to see if these piggies get to go to the market.