In a world where natural beings simply can’t measure up to biotech scientists’ unnatural desires, a Chinese biotech firm has recently announced plans to launch a genetically modified micro pig which would stay forever small.
The genetically modified swine was reportedly created initially to help scientists study and resolve human ailments, but BGI – the DNA-editing company responsible for the pig – decided to sell the miniature creations as pets for about $1,600 each.
While many consumers may be open to the idea of a GMO, forever-small pet, the rest of us have some obvious questions. Will the pigs be inherently healthy, or will they suffer due to being man-made with edited DNA? And like many GMO crops escape test fields and contaminate other nearby crops, would these pigs have an impact on the ecosystem and other livestock if they were to be released or if they escaped?
We have seen time and time again how animals consuming genetically modified feed suffer more health problems than those consuming non-GMO feed. This can be seen with one pig farmer in Denmark who sounded the alarm on what he believes are deformities caused by genetically modified feed, crippling the pigs he raises. According to The Ecologist, farmer Ib Pedersen has found piglets born with spinal deformities, visible growths and abnormalities, and even conjoined twins. He blames glyphosate—the herbicide found on genetically modified crops.
Now scientists are going one step further, manipulating the DNA of animals and not just the food these animals eat. When you look at the previous evidence of GMO crops and GMO foods potentially harming the health of humans and the environment, it’s easy to see how manipulating the DNA of pigs may have hazardous effects. And to institute such technologies simply to keep an animal pet-size? Well, I think a stronger argument is needed to even consider such endeavors.
The only micro silver lining – if you wanted to look for one – is that these pigs are created by manipulating their own DNA. Created through a process known as gene editing, the scientists edited the pigs own genetic material, removing some letters of DNA from its own genome. In contrast, the company known as AquaBounty, which has been trying to release its genetically modified salmon for more than 20 years, combines DNA from both the AquAdvantage salmon AND the GloFish. At least the researchers aren’t implanting worm DNA or catfish DNA into the pigs.
But no matter the method, the bottom line is that we are seriously playing with nature. Should we really be genetically engineering micro pigs when nations around the world are banning other man-made creations like genetically modified crops due to serious health and environmental concerns?
LA Times (Featured image source)