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Friday, January 20, 2006

Green Eggs and Transgenic Ham

Glowing PigsScientists in Taiwan say they have bred three male pigs that glow in the dark. They claim that while other researchers have successfully bred partially fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are completely green inside and out. Even their heart and internal organs are green. The transgenic pigs were engineered by introducing genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo. The researchers hope the pigs will boost the island's stem cell research, as well as helping with the study of human disease.

To create them, DNA from jellyfish was added to about 265 pig embryos which were implanted in eight different sows Glow in the Dark Pigs(they basically injected fluorescent jellyfish green protein into embryonic pigs). Four of the female pigs became pregnant and three male piglets were born three months ago. In daylight, the pigs' eyes, teeth skin have a greenish hue. Research using the transgenic pigs will be much easier because the pig's genetic material is green and is very easy to spot. For instance, if some stem cells from a glow-in-the-dark pig are injected into some other animal, scientists can track how they develop without performing a biopsy or conducting other invasive tests. Creating these transgenic pigs was not simple, since many of the altered embryos failed to develop. Researchers hope the new, green pigs will mate with ordinary female pigs to create a new generation of transgenic pigs for use in human disease research.

The transgenic, green, glow-in-the-dark pigs immediately reminded me of the book Brave New World, in which Aldous Huxley taps into, and then feeds, our revulsion at Pavlovian-style behavioral conditioning and "eugenics" through genetic manipulation. On a lighter note, it also brought to mind Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" because it means that we are half way to having the actual "Green Eggs and Ham" entrée come to fruition. How hard can it be for scientists to crank out a transgenic, glow-in-the-dark chicken that lays green, luminous eggs. I can see the diner menus already…Brave New Breakfast Skillet only $25.25. (I couldn't resist the Zager & Evans reference!)


Matt "Centrifugal Bumble-puppy" Largo


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