United States Food and Drug Administration Approves Genetically-Engineered Pigs For Food And Medicine
Pigs developed by medical company Revivicor can now be used in the production of drugs, organs and even as meat that can be eaten by people with pork allergies. The pigs are called GalSafe pigs, and they have been produced with a clear purpose in mind.
The pigs do not have the Alpha-gal sugar (AGS) molecule that commonly causes severe reactions in humans, and this means they can be used as reaction-free meat.
FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn discussed the importance of these engineered pigs in a press release:
Today’s first-ever approval of an animal biotechnology product for both food and as a potential source for biomedical use represents a tremendous milestone for scientific innovation.
As part of our public health mission, the FDA strongly supports advancing innovative animal biotechnology products that are safe for animals, safe for people, and achieve their intended results.
On top of enabling safe consumption for a greater number of people, these pigs will be able to help in the medical sector. The pigs can be used to make blood thinners like heparin, without the risk of causing an AGS-based reaction. The animals could also be used for organ transplants, as AGS can be a factor in organ rejection. The key part of these pigs is that they lack a potentially harmful molecule, which means they can be used in a wide variety of sectors.
This is not the first time the FDA has approved genetically-modified animals. In fact, engineered chickens, salmon and goats have all been approved in efforts to make food safer. While these molecular changes are slight, some may feel uncomfortable eating modified meat.
These pigs are not modified in a way comparable to the fictional film Okja, but the inspiration behind the film can clearly be seen in this development. Whether people will accept this kind of meat, or if other alternatives will be pursued remains to be seen. At the moment, the FDA believes that the animals could be used in several ways to ensure safer consumption.
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