‘Heart-healthy’ pork from pigs with bad hearts
I live for this sort of stuff:
Guys in white lab coats got to tinkering with pig DNA, hoping to conjure up pork rich in “heart-healthy” omega-3 fatty acids. Here’s what they did:
A team from the University of Pittsburgh a first transferred the roundworm gene–fat-1–to pig foetal cells. After that, a team from the University of Missouri cloned those cells and transferred them into 14 pig mothers.
Great teamwork, guys. Success!
12 pigs were born. Six of them tested positive for the gene and its ability to synthesise omega-3 fatty acids.
Except there was a catch:
Three of the six piglets subsequently had to be killed because of heart defects. These defects appear to be a result of the cloning process rather than the introduced gene.
Right — there is that nasty, inconvenient bit about cloned animals: they tend to be all screwed up. So the heart-healthy pork came from pigs with bum hearts.
Meanwhile, over in Spain, old-breed pigs are running around munching acorns. In robust and even rude health, they produce pork high in omega-3 fatty acids. (A descendant of this breed exists in the United States: Ossaba hogs, which were left on Ossaba Island off the Georgia coast by Spanish sailors centuries ago and have stayed genetically pure since.)
For what it’s worth, Iberico/Ossaba hogs produce meat of magnificent, transcendent, and even mystical flavor. And yes, vegans, I eat it sparingly.
Hat tip the to the invaluable Ethicurean.