Lab Canada

Enviropigs meet their end

Guelph, ON – The public’s aversion to consuming genetically modified food has resulted in the death of 10 enviropigs at the University of Guelph. This group of genetically engineered pigs was put down last month when the university determined it was unable to continue the research and could not donate the animals to any other research facility or farm.

The project was started in 2008 with the aim of developing pigs that would emit environmentally sound waste. The pigs were genetically modified to excrete less-polluting waste and were originally destined to become certified for human consumption. Ontario Pork, which was the project’s main financial backer, stopped the funding because of consumers’ reluctance to ingest genetically modified meat.

Although there were several offers to take the swine, the transfer of transgenic animals would breach university protocols and Canadian policies. According to the Canadian Press, Rich Moccia, an associate vice-president at the school, said it was too large of a risk to release the pigs. “The possibility of escapement or inadvertent release, however remote, could occur, with the possibility that they could intermix with either feral or domesticated pigs, or even end up in the human food chain by accident.” The university will preserve the pigs’ genetic information for future use.