This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks – Simon

Enviropig is the trademark for a genetically modified line of Yorkshire pigs, first created in 1999, with the capability to digest plant phosphorus more efficiently than ordinary unmodified pigs.  They are considered “greener”, emitting a smaller quantity of pollutants in their manure.  Thus, the name “enviropig”.  Their creators hope one day that enviropig’s will be sold in markets, fast food chains and in packaged food.

The pig itself is marketed as “the first transgenic animal created to solve an environmental problem.”  But many critics say that the scale of livestock farming is what needs to change, not the pig’s genetics.  Charles Margulis, a spokesman for Greenpeace USA, says, “We think the Enviropig is a Frankenpig in disguise.” So do most independent scientists and researchers.

Like all living things, pigs need phosphorous from their food, because it plays a key role in the formation of bones, teeth and cell walls as well as in a variety of other cellular and organ functions.  According to Effect of High Available Phosphorus Corn and Elevated Fat and Protein Corn on Nutrient Digestibility and Excretion in Finishing Pigs by S. L. Hankins, A. L. Sutton and B. T. Richert, the typical Bt corn and soybean meal diets fed to pigs in the U.S. are known to contain as much as 80% of their phosphorus content in a form that is unavailable to the pig’s digestion.

Phosphorous derived from GMO Bt feed is indigestible by pigs without an enzyme called phytase.  Enviropigs were created to produce the enzyme phytase in the salivary glands that is secreted in the saliva.  Currently, farmers feed their pigs the phytase enzyme as a supplement.  But enviropig creators claim that phytase supplements aren’t as effective at breaking down phosphorus as the phytase created in a man-made enviropig.

Although pigs will raid a corn field from time to time, pigs are not genetically designed to eat corn.  By changing pigs from free-range grazing to confined pens where they are force-fed GMO Bt corn, the factory farming industry has embarked down a road where, like lies, it must make up a new “fix” to correct their last mistake.  Much like lying, once down that road, it requires one new “fix” after another to correct the problems caused by the previous “fix”.

Factory farms meets their phosphorus nutrient requirement by inorganic phosphorus supplementation, often in excess of dietary requirements.  To sell the use of enviropigs, the industry has forced the cost of inorganic phosphorous to a level where supplementation is expensive.  Using inorganic phosphorous only increases the percentage of undigested phosphorous. If humans can only absorb 50% of ingested synthetic supplements, then how can you expect another mammal to absorb anymore.

The creators of Enviropigs claim that their GE animal substantially reduces the phosphorus content of the animal’s manure – ranging from a 20 to 60% reduction.  However, there has been no independent testing to either prove or disprove this claim.  And there has been no testing to determine whether the use of growth hormones and excessive antibiotics on factory farms also contributes to the problem with absorbing phosphorous and other nutrients.

Factory farms spread the excess dietary phosphorus in the manure on the soil to grow Bt GMO feed increasing the amount of phosphorous in the feed and harming the soil.  Over the years, the levels of phosphorous have increased in the soil and will continue to increase as long as factory farmed GMO feed and manure derived from GMO pigs is used as fertilizer.  It damages the soil and everything grown in it.

During the rainy season, the phosphorous-tainted manure from factory farms runs off into lakes and estuaries, depleting oxygen, killing fish, stimulating algae overgrowth and emitting greenhouse gases.  Aquatic life cannot and has not survived in this tainted environment.

It is an industry-wide problem caused by factory farms and chemical pollutants such as pesticides, rGBH and an excessive use of antibiotics.  The problem of “deadzones” already exists in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico caused by the runoff from all factory farms – not just pigs.  Enviropigs alone will not materially affect the “deadzones”.

Using the theories of enviropig creators, the U.S. would need “envirocattle”, “envirochickens”, “envirosheep” and “envirofish” to solve the problems caused by GMO feed.  Since humans also consume GMO fruits and vegetables high in phosphorous, perhaps a “envirohuman” will come next.  It sounds absurd but it is merely an extension of their school of thought.

Why do they feed pigs GMO Bt grains?  It is because those grains are cheap (and because they are subsidized by our government) and can be acquired in the huge amounts necessary to feed the millions of factory farmed pigs slaughtered every year.  It’s about money.  It’s always about money.  It would simpler and more logical to change the feed given to pigs from GMO feed to natural organic feed and organic supplements as needed.  Sustainable farmers do this every day with great success.

Pigs have been around from time immemorial and now we are changing nature’s way of feeding them.  Pigs have not and cannot evolve fast enough to adapt to a new food source – especially one contaminated by GMO bacterium, viruses and toxins.  In effect, we are changing the whole genetic makeup of pigs to accommodate the growers of GMO Bt feed and industrial factory farmers.

Researchers have spent more than a decade hunting for an enzyme that could break down phosphorous, finally finding it by using the genome of the E. coli bacterium.  Scientists combined DNA from the E. coli bacterium with a mouse (using more than 20,000 cloned cells to make sure the modification would work in mammals) to a Yorkshire pig’s embryo to create the Enviropig.  Most Americans know and understand that E. coli is a dangerous bacterium with dangerous consequences when consumed by humans.

The “murine parotid secretory protein gene” was also used as the “promoter” of the gene split.  Few people know what the “murine parotid secretory protein gene” is or that it causes sexual dimorphism which alters or eliminates the systematic difference in form between individuals of different sex in the same species.  This is why GMO animals have such few offspring survive birth.

Examples in changes include “color, size and the presence or absence of parts of the body used in courtship displays or fights, such as ornamental feathers, horns, antlers, or tusks.”  In simple terms, an enviropig may have a strange color, large breasts on a male or males with female genitalia and vice a versa.  I doubt that most Americans want to eat a “kinda funny look’n” pig.

Professor Joe Cummins says that GE foods contain genetic elements from bacteria that may be absorbed by our bodies and lead to promotion of inflammation, arthritis and lymphoma.  Dr. Sharyn Martin warns that “fragments of transgenic DNA might provoke chronic allergic or autoimmune disorders including such that cause serious disabling or even lethal disease.”

Biologically “crippled” laboratory strains of bacteria can often survive in the environment to exchange genes with other organisms.  Genetic material (DNA) released from dead and living cells, far from being rapidly broken down, actually persists in the environment and transfer to other organisms.

Early trials revealed that the bacterial phytase enzyme was not only incorporated into the pig genome, it could be inherited by the offspring of GE pigs.  That would mean that the offspring would also inherit all the consequences in addition to the bacterias, viruses and toxins transmitted by GMO Bt feed.  This would only open the door to even more disease and illness among susceptible humans.

Another concern about GM animals is the narrowing of the gene pool.  The pigs we eat come from a very restricted number of bulls – yielding piglets that gain weight faster and produce juicer cuts of meats.  This narrow gene pool, however, has also made the pigs more vulnerable to infection – amplified by the factory farming practice of feeding GMO Bt corn, soybeans and barley.  Genetically engineered enviropigs will undoubtedly the narrow gene pool even further.

Despite this side effect, one of the primary goals of the biotechnology is to produce a pig which can be eaten by humans.  The creators claim to have done extensive testing on the various internal organs and different meat cuts and claim they are “nature-identical” to a normal Yorkshire pig.  Of course, the creators of Franken-Salmon also make the same claims despite their obvious differences.  We can’t imagine ordering baby back ribs with E. coli and mouse cells in it.

Experts believe that the FDA will be first to take action on the application and believe the agency is about half-way through its analysis.  The FDA will not provide any information on the process.  But before ruling on the enviropig, the FDA will likely make a decision on genetically-altered Franken-Salmon.

Enviropig could take years to pass U.S. and Canadian tests for commercial use and human consumption, noted Steven Liss, an environmental scientist at the University of Guelph in Ontario and a spokesperson for the project.  Others believe that this is a placebo to quiet opposition and that scientists are much closer than they wish to admit publicly.

There is a crisis is in the livestock sector of Canada where farmers have become dangerously in debt because of GMOs.  Some have even committed suicide over the effects of genetically modified foods on their economy.  The problem with suicide among farmers is occurring around the world.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, more than 182,900 farmers committed suicide between 1997 and 2007. The Bureau estimates 46 farmers commit suicide every day , which is about roughly one suicide every half hour. The desperation of Indian farmers has been traced directly back to Monsanto, who has been ruthless in its drive to use India as a testing ground for their GMO crops.

Many believe that the enviropig is just going to be a costly techno-fix.  In reality, it’s not even a fix.  There already are solutions such as sustainable agriculture, changing the feed given to pigs and resuming a more traditional style of farming that excludes the dangers of factory farming.  Whenever politics and economics come into play, it’s hard to predict how science will develop.

Most believe that scientists have strayed too far away from ethics and should refrain from pursuing research if it is believed to perpetuate harmful environmental and societal problems.  According to Steve Lidkea, long-time member of the Guelph community where the enviropig was created, “Scientists lose sight of the fact that there’s right and wrong in the world.  Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do something.  I think in this case, they’ve modified the pig to address a sort of non-existent need.”

There clearly remains a great debate over the use of genetic modification in the name of improving the livestock sector and enabling a more “sustainable” environment.

A new report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) written by 400 scientists and approved by 60 countries recognizes that the fight against hunger and climate change will not be won using industrial agriculture.

Instead of producing our own animals and fish in an attempt to satisfy growing consumption and prevent the depletion of natural sources, why don’t we spend millions on investing in responsible, sustainable farming?  That way Mother Nature can do what she does best and perhaps our planet with all it’s inhabitants will be left a little less unscathed.

Creating pigs for the sole purpose of altering their excrement is ethically, morally and nutritionally wrong.  Enviropigs are another example of science gone amok.  It joins an elite class of other scientifically questionable genetic modifications such as creating apples that don’t turn brown when you cut them; onions created for the sole purpose of eliminating tears when someone peels and cuts them; and rabbits that don’t vomit.

Genetic creators have also created the Aedes mosquito, capable of sterilizing female mosquitoes, and the GloFish, a fluorescent zebrafish that comes in “three striking colors” — starfire red, electric green and sunburst orange.  Flowers are being engineered to have different smells.  Okay, a daisy that smells like a rose?  How does that help mankind.

This is a downhill slide toward the ultimate genetic modification of humans.  What’s next?  An envirodog that cleans up after itself.  We are certain that every circus will want or need an enviroelephant.

Sadly we are slowly but surely entering an age in which large corporations want to exercise power over mother Nature and ultimately every living organism on this planet.  Instead of dictators playing “God”, we now have mega-corporations playing “God”.

The enviropig creators want the public to take a leap of faith and trust their research at a time when the conduct of Monsanto and other biotech companies have eroded public confidence.  Twenty years ago, 90% of studies were funded by the NIH and paid to independent researchers.  Now, 90% of all research dollars are paid by companies to their own researchers and 10% by the NIH to independent researchers.  It is difficult to trust industry studies because of the constant atmosphere of financial conflicts of interest.

And, what happens when GMO patents expire and it is open season on amateur genetic engineering.  It brings back memories of Dr. Frankenstein hiding in the woods making his creature.  Does anyone believe that there is not going to be another Dr. Frankenstein out there or one to be born in the future?

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of award winning books – Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn’s, IBD and IBS – How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in the Health, Diet & Reference Categories) and Mannie’s Diet and Enzyme Formula – A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone (Blogger News Net 2010 Best Health And Nutrition Book Award winner) available at HowToEliminatePain.com, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world.

The authors’ latest book, It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction is now available at HowtoEliminatePain.com, Amazon and booksellers everywhere.

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