Biotech Pork: Tasty, Healthful Treat or Hideous, Kamapua'a/Dagon Monstrosity?

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For those of us under 40, lacking any genetically-based crippling diseases, and pretty sure we don't need wings or gills, one of the biotech frontier's–so ably explained and defended in our own Ron Bailey's brilliant new book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution–most exciting areas is food that's better for us in interesting ways.

The Los Angeles Times today reveals the coming, via experiments unveiled over the weekend in Nature Biotechnology, of pork that is unnaturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, supposedly good for protection against heart attacks. The first batch of bio-altered pigs have only one-fifth the omega-3 found in salmon, but researchers think they can improve that with more breeding.

A don't-whip-out-the-bibs-yet caveat: no one has yet eaten any of these altered pigs to see if they taste good, or properly pig-like. One of the scientists working on the project does assure us they do not "smell fishy."

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  1. Now they need to transfer genes to given them a crisp breaded exterior.

  2. Now, if they could just genetically modify the cloven hooved feet, they could make the pig kosher as well.

  3. You just know that somebody is going to eat it, come down with some disease later, and sue them. And Dave W. will be all over us about it.

  4. Thoreau: my absolute favorite post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc conclusion ever is that in 1994 the number of pot crop seizures and burnings in Los Angeles went up, and that the same year air pollution levels in Los Angeles went down…therefore, pot smoke is good for the environment.

  5. And we won’t even be sure that the pork caused the disease, but Dave W. will say we should assume so.

  6. Sometimes I think that some folks are not so much worried by the possibility that this sort of thing might harm you but by the fact that you might enjoy it.

    What was it Mencken said about puritans?

  7. Is it discriminatory for the Feds to fund research whose benefits explicitly discriminate against Jews, Muslims, and even Vegetarians?

  8. What was it Mencken said about puritans?

    Lots of things. When it came to the subject of puritans, he never lacked for a quotable line.

  9. I think he described puritainism as the paralyzing fear that someone, somewhere might be enjoying something.

  10. I’m looking forward to barbecued spare ribs, bacon, and sausage that can be eaten on Lenten Fridays.

  11. Stevo: That is already possible, give up Catholicism for Lent!

  12. A don’t-whip-out-the-bibs-yet caveat: no one has yet eaten any of these altered pigs to see if they taste good, or properly pig-like. One of the scientists working on the project does assure us they do not “smell fishy.”

    I doubt they will taste as good as the real thing. Part of what makes bacon sooo…delicious is the heavy-duty, 100% saturated fat in it.

    If I wanted fish, I’d eat fish (and sometimes do, with gusto).

    Pedantic nit-pick: The “fishy” smell is caused mostly by amines produced by the breakdown of certain proteins. Fresh fish doesn’t have a very strong smell; if a fish has a strong “fishy” smell, it’s probably not very fresh.

  13. Cultivated salmon has a terrible sewer smell. Even when it’s alive it smells terrible. I’d rather get my omegas from a three eyed pork than cultivated salmon.

  14. Why don’t know what it tastes like?

  15. It probably tastes like chicken.

  16. What if we want gills and wings? Eating bio-modified pork won’t let me fly underwater, now will it?

  17. The Iberico breeds in Spain supposedly already have omega-3. I guess it’s just too easy to ship a few of those buggers over here and work from there.

  18. It’d probably be more environmentally sound to create fish that taste like bacon.

  19. OK, I am a vegetarian, so I could care less about this type of stuff until they are able to grow flesh in vats, in which case I will be enjoying a nice human-flesh steak, thank you… hopefully cloned from my very own DNA, so it will be super easy to digest.

    But isn’t a really inaccurate thing to somehow say that normal domesticated animals and plants aren’t bio-tech? I mean, most domesticated plants and animals are genetic monsters. Did you know that wheat has more chromosomes than humans do?

  20. Now they need to transfer genes to given them a crisp breaded exterior.

    And if they can make alphafa sprouts grow in the ears, you’ll have a walking “Meal On Hooves”.

    most domesticated plants and animals are genetic monsters

    Just remember, you are what you eat. And if RexRhino is right, then soon we’ll all look like an Alien and then we can eat whatever we damn well please. Who’s gonna argue?

    Now isn’t that the ultimate goal here? Why do we have to be so very picky about it all?

  21. “I mean, most domesticated plants and animals are genetic monsters. Did you know that wheat has more chromosomes than humans do?”

    So? Elephants, butterflies, and ferns all have more chromosomes than people. That doesn’t make something a genetic monster. Do you mean, it was specifically altered by humans?

  22. Rex,

    The majority of our food crops have been modified by selective breeding until they bear little resemblance to their antecedents. I think the argument of the “Frankenfood” crowd is that achieving in a few years of lab work what would take hundreds of years of selective breeding is somehow upsetting to Gaia. I know that on the Cartoon Network last night the Tick sprayed the antidote on El Seed’s corn army in the very nick of time, so I guess you can’t be too careful.

  23. Mr. (Rex), what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this (thread) is now dumber for having (read) it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  24. Actually, RexRhino’s assertion of wheat as a man-made monster isn’t far from truth.

    Wheat is a polyploid. It contains 6 sets of chromosomes vs. the 2 sets that it’s ancient ancestors probably had. Because the individual cells in polyploid plants are larger than in diploid plants the whole plant tends to be larger, very advantageous if you are farming them. By selective breeding, man has created this effect.

    As for the whole Omega-3 = Fishiness thing, Captain Holly is right. Omega-3 fatty acids(ALA) are found in high concentration in brown flax seed and I have never had any flax smell fishy to me. Due to it’s high reactivity with oxygen (polyunsaturated) it will go rancid pretty damn quick though.

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