Giant Mice from Genetic Engineers, Giant Fungus from Washington State, and More

Scientists breed real-life rodents of unusual size, a fungus covering over two square miles in Washington is found to be a single organism, the National Turkey Federation announces the winners of their recipe contest for teens, and fertilizers from cricket, elephant, and rhino droppings are on the market.


| October/November 1992



Field Cricket

Cricket droppings as organic fertilizer is a surprisingly lucrative market.


PHOTO: FOTOLIA/EPANTHA

Genetic Engineering Creates Giant Mice

Picture a nervous mouse scampering across your kitchen floor. Only this is not a wee creature you see out of the corner of your eye. This guy is two and a half times the size of a regular mouse. Now how are you going to catch it?

According to Dr. Michael W. Fox's book, Superpigs and Wondercorn (Lyons & Burford), researchers have already created mighty mouse recipes. Ohio State researcher J. Mintz created the giant mouse by inserting rabbit growth genes into mouse embryos. Interesting work to be sure, but why?

For one thing, biotechnologists believe livestock species could be engineered to enhance weight gain or growth rates, reproductive performance, disease resistance, and coat characteristics. Genetic engineering could also be directed to develop vaccines and improve crops.

Biotechnologists argue that genetic engineering is "simply an extension for selective breeding; since mutations (spontaneous genetic changes) occur naturally, there is nothing morally wrong with altering animals through genetic engineering." If nature can create giant pigs, why can't we?

With all due respect to the scientific community, MOTHER suggess that this is a multi-dimensional question at best. What right do humans have to control evolution? Is it moral to try to "improve" upon nature? And what right do we have to make "improvements" for ourselves at the expense of the natural environment?

For our part, we could wait forever before seeing 12-foot-long, five-foot-high pigs. Fox says they are within the realm of possibility in the next 10 to 20 years. Or maybe when pigs fly (which could be tomorrow).





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