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“The original intent in making these animals was to try to improve the way that we feed people,” Oatley said. “And we can’t do that unless we can work with the FDA system to get these animals actually into the food chain.”
Oatley and his team of scientists and researchers worked closely with the FDA to gain approval. His team used CRISPR on five pigs to prove to the FDA that food made from the genetically modified animals is safe for consumption. But for Oatley, the acheivement of an academic institution being granted FDA authorization is just as satisfying as the outcome of the project.
The team selectively chose the most desirable DNA from one male pig then passed the traits down to the other pigs by using surrogate sires, which is a technology that sterlizes male animals by knocking out the NANOS2 gene, according to Daily Mail.
The sterilized pigs were implanted with the most desirable pig’s stem cells, which allows for the pigs to pass those desired traits on to the next generation through their sperm.
The two-year-old pigs were processed at the WSU Meat Lab and the meat was inspected by the US Dept of Agriculture.
The FDA has not yet approved the sale of the piglets born from the surrogate sires, but they are under review to be included in the food chain, according to Daily Mail.
The project took around two years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With heavy biases surrounding genetically modified organisms, professor Oatley wanted to dispel common misconceptions and regurgitated that GMO’s are safe for consumption.
“There’s a trust that comes with university-based research,” Oatley said. “At WSU, we’re all about the science. We just want to ensure the research is valid and the animals we produce are healthy.”
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