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Research Sows Transgenic Pig Reduces Pollution Potential and Performs Well

by 5m Editor
5 February 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1172. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Farm-Scape is sponsored by
Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1172

Research at the University of Guelph suggests the genetically engineered 'enviropig' performs as well as non engineered pigs but excretes much less phosphorus.

The University of Guelph began development of the enviropig in the early 1990s and the first live animals were born in 1999.

The pig is genetically engineered to secret phytase, an enzyme which degrades plant phosphorus, allowing the pig to utilize it more efficiently.

Microbiology Professor Dr. Cecil Forsberg says studies have shown the enviropig excretes about 60 percent less phosphorus than non-transgenic pigs.

"Let's put that in relation to the feeding of commercial phytase since now many farmers are feeding phytase to their pigs.

They get a 25 to 30 percent reduction of phosphorus in the fecal material at a fairly reasonable cost.

If they wanted to reduce that phosphorus further, the cost would go up exponentially whereas the enviropig pig is able to attain phosphorus reduction in the fecal material by approximately 60 percent.

We have some data which suggests that these transgenic pigs producing phytase are able to grow on an unsupplemented feed at more or less the same rate as your non transgenic pigs on a phosphorus supplemented feed.

In other cases it can be slightly lower so there's some variation but we have not gotten into sufficiently large trials yet to really do a good estimation of the growth efficiency because that takes a lot more animals than we have on the ground at the present time."

Dr. Forsberg says that 60 percent reduction in the phosphorus content of the fecal material dramatically reduces the potential of these pigs to pollute the environment which helps address the growing concern over the possible pollution and tainting of fresh water systems.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor