Genetically engineered pigs killed after funding ends

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Canada‘s only herd of genetically engineered pigs has been killed, putting in jeopardy a plan to turn the technology into the first GE animal approved for human consumption.

The University of Guelph, which holds the patent for the so-called Enviropigs, quietly killed the remaining animals last month after failing to find an industry partner to continue to fund the project that began in 1999 with an ambitious commercialization plan.

There were 10 remaining animals in the herd from the 10th generation of the pigs, which were first created with a snippet of mouse DNA introduced into their chromosomes and engineered to produce low-phosphorus feces and reduce waste at large factory farms.

The project’s future was put into doubt earlier this spring, when industry association Ontario Pork decided to end its financial support.

The genetic information is being preserved in long-term safe storage at the Canadian Agricultural Genetics Repository Program operated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon, university spokeswoman Lori Bona Hunt told Postmedia News Thursday.

Still, the depopulation of the herd could torpedo the university’s applications with Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration in the United States for the Enviropig to become meat on kitchen tables.

In a statement, Bona Hunt said the applications “to assess the safety of Enviropigs for human food and animal feed are currently under review,” but raised the spectre of the university pulling the plug at some point, saying “they will remain active until a regulatory decision is made or until such time that the university no longer desires to obtain a final decision from the regulatory evaluators.”

Calling the deaths a “sad but necessary conclusion to an unwanted and unnecessary GE experiment,” Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network said the regulatory review process should be aborted immediately because there is no longer the scientific capacity at the University of Guelph to answer any questions arising from Health Canada’s ongoing safety assessment of Enviropigs for human food and animal feed.

“The university has no business wasting public funds on a review for a technology that no one wants, that’s so commercially unviable,” said Sharratt, who also placed blame on the federal government.

“It’s unacceptable that Health Canada would continue spending time on this file when it’s obviously being packed away. There needs to be a clear process for shutting down review processes for GE products that are going nowhere.”

Health Canada has repeatedly said the government cannot comment on any applications to assess the safety of any GE animal for human food.

The pigs were euthanized on May 24.

It occurred just days after North America’s largest farm animal protection group launched a public campaign to save the lives of the swine. New York-based Farm Sanctuary offered to work with the university to find “loving homes for the Enviropigs” to “live out their unnatural lives as naturally as possible.”

Bona Hunt said that the university received “many generous and well-intentioned offers,” but there was “absolutely no opportunity for this to occur, as adoption, donation or transfer of the animals would represent a breach of protocols and Canadian policies.”

Added Bona Hunt: “Releasing the Enviropigs would also have violated Canadian regulations for the containment and use of transgenic animals, and possibly compromised consumer safety and market protection.”

The University of Guelph had previously filed an application with Environment Canada to permit the GE pig to be farmed commercially, and cleared an important hurdle in February 2010. At the time, the department determined the GE pig did not harm the environment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and accepted the University of Guelph’s notice of significant new activity — meaning the GE pig could be farmed commercially.

News Link:-http://www.canada.com/technology/science/Genetically+engineered+pigs+killed+after+funding+ends/6819844/story.html

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Genetically Modified Pigs to Be Killed; Animal Group Pleads for Mercy

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – May 16, 2012 –Farm Sanctuary wants to give “Enviropigs” a happy retirement

On Tuesday, Farm Sanctuary, North America’s leading farm animal protection organization, reached out to scientists at the University of Guelph on behalf of their more than 250,000 constituents to ask that they work with the group to place the sixteen “Enviropigs” in loving homes. The pigs were poised to become the world’s first genetically modified animals approved for human consumption, but now could face an untimely end, as Ontario Pork, key backers of Canada’s “Enviropig” project, have withdrawn their support for the controversial engineered animal.

Farm Sanctuary runs three farm animal sanctuaries in the United States, and works with a network of concerned and compassionate people all over North America to provide care for abused and abandoned farm animals.

“Pigs are interesting individuals who have the same behavioral needs, capacities for cognition and emotion, and range of personalities that we all know to exist in dogs and cats,” says Bruce Friedrich, senior director for strategic initiatives at Farm Sanctuary. “For the same reason they wouldn’t kill 16 healthy dogs at the end of a research project, we’re asking the University of Guelph to take responsibility for the lives of these poor animals they brought into the world and instead of killing them, give them a chance to live out their final years basking in sunshine, taking mud baths, and simply being pigs.”

Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, promotes legislative, policy, and individual lifestyle changes to help farm animals. Farm Sanctuary’s shelters in New York and California provide lifelong care for more than 1,000 rescued farm animals. For more information, please visit farmsanctuary.org

News Link:-http://www.farmsanctuary.org/mediacenter/2012/pr_enviropigs.html

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