In the mid-1990s, microbiologist Cecil Forsberg of the University of Guelph in Ontario and his colleagues thought they’d achieved a pig production breakthrough: they had genetically engineered swine that could digest the phosphorous compounds in their feed. Phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phosphorus-containing phytate in plants, is produced by the gut bacteria of cows and other ruminants, but it is not made by pigs. Forsberg’s team borrowed a phytase gene from E. coli and a fragment of mouse DNA that mediated the enzyme’s production in the salivary glands, injected the genetic construct into pig zygotes, then inserted those zygotes into fertile sows. “In the end, we had approximately 30 different lines of pigs,” Forsberg recalls. The researchers screened the animals for levels of phytase production in the salivary glands, narrowing the field to the four most promising. “Then we came down to one line”—the Cassie line, named for its founding animal—“which performed satisfactorily and contained three copies of the transgene,” he says.
Pulmonary Hypertension News
Genomics development and commercialization specialist firm Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) of La Jolla, CA, and Silver Spring, Maryland-based Lung Biotechnology Inc., a subsidiary of United Therapeutics Corporation, have entered into a multi-year research and development agreement to develop humanized pig organs using synthetic genomic advances. The collaboration will initially focus on developing organs for human patients in need of organ transplants, such as engineered lungs and lung tissues for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension or other lung diseases.
There are no genetically engineered animals sold for human consumption right now. The only candidate that's anywhere close, AquaBounty's fast-growing GM Salmon, seems to have stalled in its approval process, in spite of positive scientific reviews finding AqauBounty Fish safe to eat and safe for the environment. As you might guess, the lack of genetically modified meat on the market isn't because a lack of technology. It's because of politics-GM foods are deeply unpopular, and GM food animals especially so.
New Scientist - 04.23.2014
On 10 April, Brazil became the first country to approve the commercial use of genetically modified insects when it gave the green light to GM mosquitoes designed to control the spread of dengue fever.
Dengue fever affects more than 50 million people worldwide every year and can be deadly. Now biotech firm Oxitec of Oxford, UK, has genetically engineered males of the species Aedes aegypti so that their offspring die before reaching maturity
The Washington Post - 04.03.2014
Don't expect to find genetically modified salmons - or any other engineered meat - on the store shelves anytime soon. Supporters of genetically engineered fish and meat say they expect Food and Drug Administration approval of the salmon and still hope to find a market for it. However, the retailers’ caution and lengthy regulatory delays have made investors skittish. “The FDA delay has caused developers to take a pause,” says Dr. David Edwards of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the main industry group for genetically engineered agriculture. “They’re not really sure where to go as far as the regulatory system.”
Forbes - 03.19.2014
Approval of the AquAdvantage salmon has been delayed because of the antagonism of the Obama White House, which hijacked the review two years ago. The fish would have been in our markets and on our plates long ago, had Hamburg and her agency been permitted to do their jobs.
The New Yorker - 08.08.2013
Psychologists have long observed that there is a continuum in what we perceive as natural or unnatural. As the psychologist Robert Sternberg wrote in 1982, the natural is what we find more familiar, while what we consider unnatural tends to be more novel. And anything that involves human manipulation is considered highly unnatural - like say G.M.O.s, even though genertically modified food already lines the shelves at the grocery store.
NPR (Radio Link) - 03.11.2013
In her new book, Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts, science journalist Emily Anthes talks about how the landscape of bioengineering has expanded since Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996.
The New York Times - 03.09.2013
If patience is a virtue, then AquaBounty, a Massachusettes biotech company, might be the most virtuous entity on the planet. In 1993, the company approached the Food and Drug Administration about selling a genetically modified salmon that grew faster than a normal fish. In 1995, AquaBounty formally applied for approval. Last month, more than 17 years later, the public comment period, one of the last steps in the approval process, was finally supposed to conclude.
Slate - 12.21.2012
An environmental assessment of genetically modified salmon had cleared all internal regulatory hurdles and was due to be released in April, but the Obama administration put a hold on the release. House after the storied were published, according to FDA sources, the White House lifted its hold.