Planet Gore

Finally! The Enviropig

Yes, but how does the bacon taste?

Pigs have trouble fully digesting a phosphorus-based compound known as phytate found in many cereal grains used to feed them. Thus, they must be given phosphorus-enriched food supplements. Both the phytate and the excess phosphorus from supplements end up concentrated in the animal’s manure. This is then used as fertilizer for various crops.  This would not be a problem except that the excess phosphorus leaches into the soil and rain washes out much of the energy-rich substance into ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. This leads to eutrophism or hypertrophism of the algae in these water ways, which can ultimately choke most of the life in them.

But now comes ‘Enviropig’. Thanks to transgenic technology, a favorable gene from one animal can be inserted into the DNA of another, commercially valuable animal, resulting in a hybrid  that exhibits more favorable traits (in this case a “cleaner and greener” pig breed). This has been done with goats that produce spider silk in their milk, but the enviropig is one of the first created in direct response to concerns over environmental impacts.

University of Guelph scientists have created a transgenic pig — the Enviropig — which better digests phosphorus compounds. This development came in response to concerns of negative environmental impacts from animal manure run-off causing algal blooms in waterways, and consequently killing fish and other aquatic creatures.

The rest here.

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