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July 01, 2015

Scientists engineer 'double-bacon' pigs

Engineering meatier animals could translate to killing fewer swine and using less land

Science Bacon
Piglets Andrew Medichini/AP


Imagine a world with better bacon.

Scientists in Japan are on the cusp of making this foodie dream a reality - and saving some animals and the environment in the process - by employing a single gene engineering technique called double-editing to produce meatier pigs with more muscle mass, Grist reports.

Unlike conventional genetic modification, in which genes from one species are transplanted into another, as is common practice with some cow breeds, the single gene edit mirrors double muscling without messing with breeding regimes. 

What this translates to is the possibility of killing fewer swine and using less land to satisfy our global bacon obsession, Grist writer Nathanael Johnson explains.

While the practice has been met with some controversy, Johnson writes, the future of gene editing techniques could also be used to create disease-resistant livestock and hornless cattle, so farmers don’t have to burn off the horn nubs, as is usually done.

Read the full Grist article here.