Remaining GM pigs euthanized at the University of Guelph
June 22, 2012. Ottawa. Yesterday Postmedia reported that the University of Guelph has euthanized its genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) pigs as it shuts down what was poised to be the first GM food animal in the world.
“The euthanasia of these genetically engineered pigs marks the end of an unnecessary and wasteful project that should never have been taken this far,” says Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “All corporate plans for GM food animals, including the GM Atlantic salmon, should die along with these GM pigs.”
In late March, the university announced it was ending its active research on the GM pig after industry funder Ontario Pork removed its support. The GM pig, called “Enviropig”, was engineered using genetic material from a mouse to reduce phosphorus in the pig’s feces. The university began research in 1995 and requested approval from regulatory authorities in Canada and the U.S. in 2009. While Canada approved reproduction of the GM pigs in 2010, no government has approved “Enviropig” for human consumption and no GM food animals have ever been sold commercially. While the research has now been shut down, the university has yet to formally withdraw its applications to Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“The university’s decision to kill the GM pigs is an admission of the barriers to selling GM food animals to the public,” said Sharratt. “University researchers bought into biotech industry hype about a GM future but many Canadians do not accept this corporate vision.”
“Farmers had some influence over the future of this GM pig, but other unacceptable GM foods could yet be approved because the review process happens behind closed doors without giving any say to farmers and consumers,” said Paul Slomp, Youth Vice-President of the National Farmers Union.
“The federal government needs to take responsibility for allowing such a grotesque experiment to get so close to commercialization,” said Sharratt. “This lesson needs to lead to a wholesale rejection of the proposed GM fast-growing Atlantic salmon and any other GM food animal experiments.”
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext. 25; Paul Slomp, National Farmers Union, cell: 613 898 9136