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What is “Enviropig™”?

Enviropig™ is the trademarked industry name[i] for a pig that has been genetically engineered to excrete less phosphorous in its feces. Enviropig™ was developed by researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario and could soon be the first genetically modified (GM) (also called genetically engineered or GE) food animal on the market.[ii]

The goal of the GM Enviropig™ is to provide intensive livestock operations (factory farms) with a product to reduce the amount of polluting phosphorous they produce. Phosphorous from animal manure is a nutrient for plants that becomes a pollutant if there is too much of it for crops to absorb, and the excess runs off into streams and lakes. Researchers claim that the feces from Enviropig™ could contain 30 to 70.7% less phosphorus.[iii]

Enviropig™ is genetically engineered to produce the enzyme phytase in its salivary glands to enable more effective digestion of phytate, the from of phosphorus found in pig feed ingredients like corn and soybeans. Scientists inserted a transgene sequence that includes an E-coli bacteria phytase gene and a mouse promoter gene sequence.