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Boffins breed omega-3-packed porkers

Healthier bacon sarnies?

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US scientists have genetically engineered an omega-3-packed pig which promises healthier bacon sarnies.

The piglets - born at the University of Missouri-Columbia - contain a worm gene named "fat-1". This "produced an enzyme that converted the less desirable omega-6 fatty acids that the pigs naturally produced into omega-3s", as the reserchers explained in Nature Biotechnology, Reuters reports

Dr Yifan Dai of the University of Pittsburgh, who transferred the worm gene into the pig cells, said the porkers "could represent an alternative source as well as be an ideal model for studying cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders".

Pregnant women are told to eat a diet rich in omega-3s, but are also told to avoid excessive amounts of fish which may be high in mercury. Oily fish are dieticians' traditional recommended source of omega-3s.

But it is uncertain if we will ever benefit from the lifesaving black pudding. Regulators are still mulling whether genetically-modified animals should ever be allowed for human consumption, and the reaction of the public to a plateful of Frankenstein pork chops is uncertain.

In any case, some scientists have begun to cast doubts on the alleged benefits of omega-3s. According to a BBC report last week, researchers led by a team from the University of East Anglia "reviewed 89 studies into the health effects of omega-3 fats", finding "no clear evidence that they are of any use at all".

Specifically, "findings suggested the fats did nothing to prevent a recurrence of chronic heart conditions" and "men with angina given high amounts of oily fish were at a greater risk of heart attack". ®

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