Chinese scientists have genetically engineered a naturally ‘low-fat’ pig. Apparently the hogs can more efficiently regulate their body temperature, easily burning fat during cold months. The end result is leaner meat. While the science behind it is fascinating, don’t count on a guilt-free pork rinds to hit supermarket shelves anytime soon. There are an awful lot of obstacles standing between bacon-lovers and this potential food.
Initially this scientific breakthrough has been praised as a win-win for farmers and consumers. After all, it would lower both the financial costs for raising pigs and the health risks for pork eaters seeking lower calorie alternatives. However, the chances of this meal option actually reaching the American market is slim, or at least unlikely in the near future. To give some perspective, it took the Food and Drug Administration nearly two decades to green light genetically-engineered Atlantic salmon, which is currently the only genetically-engineered animal approved for human consumption in the U.S.. So who knows if and when these piglets could ever make their way stateside?
And then there’s the matter of taste. Even if we had access to the low-fat pig, small hog farmers (who are also unlikely to reap the economic benefits that large-scale industrial farms would in terms of lowering their heating costs) claim the new GE pigs would make for terrible-tasting meat. Flavor, they argue, is a byproduct of fat. One farmer even likened the new GE pigs to “wet-tasting cardboard” in an interview with the Washington Post. What’s the point of eating “the other white meat” if it lacks the tender texture that makes it so beloved in the first place?
Thus, despite being a dieter’s dream, there are lots of reasons to remain skeptical. Maybe one day they’ll be available on grocery store freezers, perhaps when pigs fly?
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