March 6, 2024 at 12:39 pm

Genetics Company Wants To Sell Gene-Hacked Pigs That Are Less Susceptible To Disease

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

Pig farmers (like almost everyone, I guess) have really taken it on the chin over the past several years. For them, it’s been diseases that have wiped out thousands of pigs before they could be turned into dinner.

That’s why the pork industry is looking to be able to edit the pigs’ genes before they’re born in order to help them survive these common (but deadly) maladies.

Genetics outfit Genus is hoping to perfect CRISPR-edited pigs so that they could withstand porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

Source: Shutterstock

One of their directors, Clint Nesbitt, spoke with New Scientist.

“I think by and large the farmers are quite excited to have it, because this is a fairly devastating disease.”

PRRS is a virus that harms both a pig’s reproductive and respiratory system. Pigs all over the world have been affected, and antibiotics, vaccines, isolation, and intense cleaning and disinfecting procedures haven’t worked.

They’re currently waiting for FDA approval. If they get it, Genus would sell genetic material from gene-edited pigs, which should yield the mutated gene in future generations – generations that would be totally immune to PRRS.

Source: Shutterstock

Animal welfare advocates like Catherine Jadav are worried that gene-edited animals could make already bad conditions worse for the animals on industrial farms.

“Keeping animals crowded together, and in stressful conditions, provides an ideal environment for pathogens to spread and evolve. If PRRS-resistant pigs are used to perpetuate the current highly intensive model of pig farming, then other diseases will continue to develop – bringing disease after disease that ‘requires’ new gene-edited animals.”

It’s a slippery slope argument, which aren’t always the most logically sound.

In this case, though, maybe we should stop and consider.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.