An enviropig can digest the phosphorus in cereal feed with greater efficiency than run-of-the-mill swine.
PHOTO: RENEE LYNN/TONY STONE
The enviropig's environmentally safe pig manure cuts down on hog operation pollution.
If a pig's manure could do less harm to the environment than the poop of ordinary porkers, would it still stink? Probably, but in a biotech breakthrough, scientists in Canada claim they have designed the first environmentally sensitive swine.
By splicing the cells of three Yorkshire pigs with mouse DNA and a strain of bacteria, researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario have created the benevolently titled ''enviropig." Scientists hope the three little pigs named Gordie, Wayne and Jacques after Canadian hockey stars — will become progenitors of vast herds of hogs that yield environmentally safe pig manure, leading to cleaner and more cost-efficient hog operations.
Farmers are largely enthusiastic about the project, given that every pig producer knows his animals' manure is heavy in phosphorus. Runoff from hog farms pollutes rivers, streams, ponds and lakes throughout Canada and the U.S.
According to scientists, an enviropig can digest the phosphorus in cereal feed with greater efficiency than run-of-the-mill swine. And if pig poop is cleaner, the phosphorus that robs water of the oxygen which sustains fish and other animals will no longer turn clear water into foul green pools of algae. But at what price?
While the enviropig engineers profess green motives, they are venturing a step further into the ecologically dubious arena of transgenic livestock - and inviting us all to dinner.
If our pigs are part mouse, will our bacon still be bacon?