Genetically modified pigs, or enviropigs, were created so that pigs raised for consumption would excrete less waste, specifically less phosphorus waste, which is a major source of freshwater pollution. So to answer your question simply, yes, enviropigs can help cut back on pollution. However, phosphorus waste is only a problem because pigs raised on large pig farms are fed a grain diet that they cannot fully digest; by changing their diets or by adding supplements, the waste problem would be remedied. The enviropigs are simply a solution (albeit a very expensive, scientific one) to a side effect of the real problem, which is that pigs raised in mass produced environments and fed an unnatural diet produce environmentally harmful waste.
Enviropigs are genetically modified Yorkshire pigs who have the capability of digesting plant phosphorus more efficiently reducing the amount of phytate that is released in their manure. Pigs’ manure has been a problem for farmers and the environment. The toxic excess phosphorus in the pig manure is also linked to toxic algal in waterways. In 1995, pig manure that was leaked through run-off into the ocean was the cause of the death of ten million fishes in North Carolina. From 1995 to 1998, there were a thousand manure spills that caused thirteen million fish deaths.
Phytate is the phosphorus compound that pigs are unable to digest that leaks out in their excrement. Since they are unable to digest the phytate, pigs require an additional dietary phosphorus for what they are unable to digest which a burden for farmers.
Researchers at the University of Guelph have attempted to find a solution for the pig manure pollution and they believe the solution is the “Enviropig”. The Enviropig are pigs that contain the E. coli gene for phytase which gives them the ability to digest phytate. The biggest concern right now is if the phytase will be present in the meat that people consume. But since the enzyme is already fed directly to the pigs it should be basically the same thing. The main problem of genetically engineering pigs remains more to be an ethical one and also a question of whether genetically engineered pigs will pose a hazard to human consumption. Enviropig reduces the feed cost for farmers and reduces the amount of land pollution and water pollution the manure causes. Further research is being done by the University and is still in the approval process commercial andagricultural use.
Because the Enviropig is engineered to digest the phosphorus in its cereal feed, we don’t have to supplement their diet with mineral or processed phosphates. So first off, we wouldn’t have to expend energy manufacturing dietary supplements. Secondly, the enviropig’s waste is less toxic. Take away phosphorus supplements and you have less phosphorus in their manure, which, coming off a factory farm, could mean a healthier water table.
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