Better pig behind bars

Published on March 21st, 2013 | by Tanya Sitton

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Swine Death Catastrophe in China Highlights GM Animal Hazards

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pig behind bars

The FDA stands ready to approve GMO salmon, despite fishy science. The USDA recently announced a $500,000 grant to develop GMO pigs. Recent world events highlight the risks (and ethics problems) surrounding GM animal research. According to reports out of Russia, some 5 million swine have died within the last two weeks in the Anhui Province of China. EU reports call the event ‘a catastrophic situation,’ and officials suspect the disaster resulted from genetic testing gone horribly wrong.

Russian authorities became concerned this week at what appeared to be a crisis unfolding, despite attempts to conceal the ongoing mass death from prying eyes. But since about 15,000 pig carcasses found their way into Russian waterways, the hush-up was ultimately doomed to fail.

Officials in China tried to quell rising alarm by assuring everyone that public health is not endangered; they said the cause of the immense sudden swine die-off is ‘complicated.’

A report prepared by Russian Health Minister Dr. Veronika Skvortsova calls this mass death event ‘strongly related’ to Chinese efforts to develop mass production techniques for Cerebrolysin, a psychotropic drug derived from swine brain tissue.

From EU Times:

Chinese researchers from West China Hospital in Chengdu have been at the forefront of Cerebrolysin research, this report continues, specifically in its ability to alter the mental states (pacify) of those taking it, and have been seeking a method of increasing its output from swine using genetic modification technology…

In further speculation, but offering no direct evidence, Minister Skvortsova further states in her report that the only three causes of such mass-death events in domestic food animals ever recorded are drastic weather conditions, disease or genetic testing; and with no evidence, so far, showing either weather or disease to be the cause, that then leaves only genetic testing as the logical reason for this mass-death event…

EUT authors go on to point out that genetic modification’s unforseen effects — such as this event, bee population collapse, and bat die-offs — could lead to ‘extinction-level events’ (full article here.)

Op-Ed Moment

Whether in the context of food production or anything else, the genetic engineering of animals inevitably generates unforseeable and irreversible problems, with potentially global impacts on our ecosphere.

In our race to invent life forms to use for our own ends (having become discontent with exploitation of already-extant creatures), we’re on a path quite likely to end horribly. We should step off it, with all due haste.

Image credit: Creative Commons photo by wattpublishing.




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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .



  • John Farthing

    Our indifference to the suffering of the swine is reprehensible but not entirely surprising. On the other hand, our indifference to critical implications for a wider circle of living beings (including ourselves) is both surprising and immoral. “What goes around comes around.” This news from China reminds us that humans cannot forever evade the consequences of their own self-destructive decisions and actions. Ms. Sitton’s wise reflections remind me of the proverbial canary-in-a-coal-mine: what we see unfolding in the streams of China is a warning to us all. We’d better pay attention before it’s too late (if it isn’t already too late).

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