A team of researchers found a solution for those bacon lovers with health conditions which prevent them from eating their favorite food. With the help of the gene-editing technology CRISPR, they managed to create skinnier pigs, with a lot less body fat than the plump swine we are used to.
Genetically engineered pigs have it better during winter
The team of Chinese researchers successfully used genetic engineering to reduce the fat by 24 percent in 12 pigs. However, their concern wasn’t sick bacon lovers, but rather farmers. During winter, the animals experience difficulties in regulating their internal temperatures, so farmers need a lot of money to keep them from freezing. Therefore, skinnier pigs would be profitable.
Fat contains the protein UCP1 which helps animals accumulate energy by burning adipose cells and, also, regain the balance of their internal temperature. Pigs do not have this protein, hence they are more sensitive during winter. Therefore, with the help of CRISPR, researchers added this protein in the piglets’ bodies.
The problem with gene editing raises many ethical concerns
Those pigs with added UCP1 are easily adaptable to cold, so they are more profitable for farmers. Also, as the protein burns fat more quickly, their meat is healthier and suitable for more people to consume. Therefore, they are a much more valuable agricultural resource.
Researchers are excited about the results they have obtained. With the help of genetic engineering, they managed to improve the well-being of the animals, while also improving the meat production. If you got excited about low-fat bacon, you still have to wait until you can munch on such a meal.
Genetic engineering is still a controversial subject, as DNA altering raises dozens of moral concerns. Some people think the technique might end world hunger, while others say no one should interfere with life. The technique might significantly improve the quality of certain foods, as the FDA has already approved a series of genetically engineered products.