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SICK: Chinese biotech company to start selling genetically modified miniature pigs as pets


Miniature pigs
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(NaturalNews) The biotech industry is at it again.

However, the latest news isn't about the industry's involvement with your food or some pills you may be taking, but about tapping into society's seemingly collective love of adorable animals.

Specifically, Chinese biotech firm BGI has focused on creating the so-called perfect pig: they're genetically modified to stay tiny, a size that's pleasing for many teacup, or miniature, pig owners. Instead of people having to contend with little teacup pigs that end up growing up to be anything but little, the firm believes its new creation is just what people crave. Tiny stays tiny.

Oh, and how could we forget?

Of course, the company, based in the southern city of Shenzhen, intends on making a significant profit; they have plans to sell the miniature pigs — originally created to study human health conditions — for $1,600 each. But according to Yong Li, technical director of BGI's animal-science platform, the profit from BGI's pet micro pigs would go toward medical research.

Pig's natural growth stunted to make them desirable

The company engages in a process called gene editing, which essentially involves disabling the pig's growth hormone receptor gene instead of putting another organism's DNA into the pig. In turn, cells don't receive the proper signal to grow as they normally would. As a result, the pigs remain small and cuddly — and in this company's case, not any more than about 33 pounds. The result: no more shocked pet pig owners who become saddened when "little" piggie balloons up to a 250-pound oinker careening through the dining room.

While advocates of these genetically modified pigs say this development will combat the problem of people abandoning pigs and help reduce crowding animal shelters, not everyone is on board.

As with anything that's genetically modified, questions about ethics, health and regulatory issues abound. For example, Kenneth Bondioli, a professor of animal sciences at Louisiana State University, brings the aspect of health into the picture, suggesting that these gene-edited pigs be seriously assessed to determine any risks they may pose. In the event that they escape or were released, what harm might other animals or the environment incur?

Furthermore, although they're for sale in China, what happens if demand for them in America grows? Get ready for all kinds of U.S. regulation issues concerning importation to take place.

Of course, there's also the ongoing ethics issue. How far do we go just to create the "perfect" something? At what point is it tampering with nature as nature intended and when is it beneficial? Is it ever beneficial? On and on, the debate will likely go.

When does it end though? Now, we're living in a world where people are creating pigs whose growth is stunted, just so they stay tiny little pets. Yet, we're still unsure of how its own health will ultimately play out, never mind that of other animals and environments the pigs may come in contact with.

If tiny pet pigs aren't your thing, there's always the lab-grown hamburger...

But, sadly, the biotech industry does what it does.

If it's not keeping pigs from growing no more than 33 pounds, it's all about creating lab-grown hamburgers as is the case in the Netherlands. There, experts from Maastricht University pride themselves over the fact that they can create a hamburger — which they estimate will enter the marketplace in about five years — made from the stem cells of cows. As outlined in a video featured by BBC, Professor Mark Post explains how he creates a lab-made burger: in a nutshell, small muscle tissues are made from the cow's stem cells, then pieced together little by little to create a whole burger. Yum.

While Post says it's essential if society is to dive into sustainability mode and protect the planet from its downward greenhouse gas emissions and animal treatment spiral, one must still ask: why all the biotech involvement?

Instead of spending money and time on such efforts, why not make immediate moves to facilitate change such as — in the case of the lab-grown Franken burgers — eating more fruits and vegetables than animals? And if we do eat animals, why not consider grass-fed beef and organic options instead of ones where they're crammed together in horrific conditions — which is not only terrible for the animals and the environment, but for human health, as well? Forget the lab stuff. Just eat less meat, or none at all, and consume more fruits and veggies. Just a thought. Surely, we need not rely on lab-grown burgers to save the planet.

So there you have it. Burgers from cow's stem sells and miniature pigs that have their genes edited to stay tiny.

Wonder what's next.

Sources:

LATimes.com

BBC.com
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