Scientists Are Developing Lower-Fat Pigs to Make Healthier Bacon
Genetic engineering might soon make your breakfast lower fat
For most meat-lovers, bacon is a guilty pleasure, considering that it’s not exactly the healthiest breakfast option out there. But it’s just so damn good, so many have been trying to find ways to partake in less fattier “bacon” options—coconut bacon, DIY bacon salt, and bacon-tasting mushrooms, for example. Little did we know that scientists have been trying to develop healthier bacon, too—and that their results have changed the lives of breakfast lovers forever. A paper published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that Chinese scientists have reportedly created 12 pigs via genetic engineering that have approximately 24% less body fat than their natural counterparts.
Ok, so maybe they didn't just do this for healthier bacon—according to NPR, the scientists created the pigs with the hope that they would suffer less in cold weather and save farmers money. "This is a big issue for the pig industry," lead researcher Jianguo Zhao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said, according to NPR. "It's pretty exciting. They could maintain their body temperature much better, which means that they could survive much better in the cold weather."
The low-fat pigs have a gene that burns fat, allowing them to regulate their body temperatures more effectively—something that NPR notes could save farmers millions while preventing piglets from dying in the cold. "This is a paper that is technologically quite important," R. Michael Roberts, a professor in the department of animal sciences at the University of Missouri who edited the paper for the scientific journal, told NPR. "It demonstrates a way that you can improve the welfare of animals at the same as also improving the product from those animals—the meat."
Zhao wrote in an email to NPR that he believes the genetic modification "will not affect the taste of the meat" as the breed of pig used for the study is "famous for the meat quality."
But will we be seeing low-fat bacon in the United States anytime soon? Roberts told NPR that he doubts it, as the FDA likely wouldn't approve it for sale. "I very much doubt that this particular pig will ever be imported into the USA—one thing—and secondly, whether it would ever be allowed to enter the food chain," he said.