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GE pigs are not the answer to phosphorous pollution in water

The Canwest News Service has reported that, “Genetically engineered pigs are one step closer to becoming meat on Canadian kitchen tables with the federal government poised to declare that they do not harm the environment.”

“Environment Canada has determined that Yorkshire pigs developed at the University of Guelph are not toxic to the environment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. …This is the first regulatory hurdle to get the pigs to market, which will be a first in the country if Health Canada approves Guelph’s pending application, submitted last year, seeking a government declaration that its transgenic pig is fit for human consumption.”

The pigs have been genetically engineered so that they produce manure that is 30-65 percent lower in phosphorous. Phosphorous is a major pollutant in the waterways and rural rivers of southern Ontario and Quebec.

It is argued that these genetically-engineered pigs will reduce the pollution of groundwater by intensive livestock operations. There is no acknowledgement that the high-intensity, large-scale hog production of the ILOs is itself the problem.

Cathy Holtslander of Saskatchewan-based Beyond Factory says, “The problem isn’t with the pigs. The problem of hog operations polluting the water has to do with the whole industrialization scale that has been developed to raise hogs.”

It is not known how long it will take for Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration to consider the University of Guelph’s submission saying that these pigs are safe to eat.

CTV.ca reports today that, “The FDA recently released draft guidelines that outline how genetically modified animals will be regulated. Health Canada has not offered any insights on how it might do the same, but it’s expected they will follow the FDA’s lead.”

The United States is Canada’s largest livestock market. In 2009, more than 7 million live pigs were exported to the United States for further rearing and then processing. Canada also imports pork from the US.

The Canwest News Service report is at http://www.windsorstar.com/technology/Genetically+engineered+pigs+almost+ready+dinner/2583859/story.html.

For a blog on the impact of NAFTA on intensive livestock operations in Mexico, please go to ‘Swine flu used to promote the SPP’ at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=428.

News on Canada’s challenge at the World Trade Organization against US country of origin labelling legislation on meat products can be read at www.canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1941. On February 21, Canadian premiers raised their concerns about country of origin labelling with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a meeting in Washington. More on this at www.canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2938.

For a critical analysis on the bad idea of ‘A Continental Agriculture Market’, go to page 21 of Maude Barlow’s ‘The Canada We Want’ at http://canadians.org/DI/documents/The_CA_we-want.pdf.

For Canadian Biotechnology Action Network analysis on the ‘Enviropig’, go to http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Animals.

For Food and Water Watch analysis on ‘Dairy and Meat Factories’, go to http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/factory/farms/dairy-and-meat-factories/.