Did you hear the one about the superhero pig that rescued the environment in a single bacon-driven bound?
No? Well, don’t worry if Big Farming gets its way you will soon.
Talk about slamming the barn door after the pig gets out! Agribusiness has come up with what it is trying to pass off as a “solution” to the environmental nightmare that’s been caused by the factory farming of pigs.
Its solution? The genetically modified (GMO) Enviropig, of course! (Oh and in case you were wondering I’m NOT making that name up. The pig’s designers beat me to it.)
First, a bit of background…
Before you can truly appreciate what’s so darn special about our new hero Enviropig, you need to know a bit about the negative impact that mass-production pig farming is having on the environment. And I must warn you that in the end it all really boils down to pig poop.
Picture this scenario: You’re a farmer running a corporate hog factory. You have a couple of warehouses full of pigs to feed, and the cheapest way to feed all those little-piggy mouths and have them grow up fast into big-piggy mouths is with a diet heavy in grains.
The problem is, however, that pig tummies are not actually designed to digest all those grains. So you’re forced to add a digestive enzyme “phytase” to their already unnatural diet. While the phytase does do the trick, allowing the pigs’ digestive systems to digest and process some phosphorus, the majority of the mineral still ends up being excreted in the pigs’ feces, giving birth to an environmental disaster.
The excessive phosphorous excreted by the pigs runs off into our waterways and promotes oxygen-eating algae blooms to pop up and deadly wildlife-slaying cyanotoxins to be formed. And here’s where the new bacon Band-Aid comes into play.
Enviropigs have DNA from mice and E. coli bacteria literally spliced into their genome. The result of this genetic tinkering is that the pigs’ salivary glands now produce their own phytase so there’s no longer any need to give your pigs supplements.
When secreted by the GM pigs’ salivary glands, the enzyme mixes with the feed in the porkers’ mouths and travels throughout the entire digestive system allowing for more phosphate to be absorbed by the pigs resulting in less of it ending up in the pig poop.
So you see…ta da!…problem solved! Enviropig has saved the day! Right?
Well, not exactly, unless of course, we count trading one problem for another as a save.
The fact is that in the end we will have simply traded the phosphorous-laden pig poop that was polluting our waterways for phosphorous-laden GM pork polluting our bodies instead. Although phosphorous in reasonable amounts is a nutrient our bodies need, an excess of it is detrimental to our health. Not to mention the as-of-yet-unknown health risks that eating GM meat might pose.
But I haven’t even told you the most frightening thing of all. Enviropigs are not just a pie-in-the-sky idea living only in the imagination of some mad scientist. In fact, they have existed since 2001 and, now in their eighth generation, have recently been given the approval of Health Canada (Health Canada is the Canadian equivalent of the FDA).
But even that’s not all. At this very moment the group behind Enviropig is cozying up to the FDA looking for another thumbs-up to bring its GMO porkers to U.S. dinner tables also. And since there are no U.S. laws forcing food manufacturers to label foods as genetically modified it will be impossible to tell when you’re purchasing the GMO pork.
Before long the National Pork Board may soon have to modify its “The Other White Meat” slogan to read “The Genetically Modified White Meat.”