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article imageButterflies and pigs, genetic modification in the news

By Tim Sandle     Jul 9, 2015 in Science
According to the European Union there is no need to widen buffer zones around genetically modified (GM) crops to protect butterflies. Meanwhile, super-muscly pigs have been created by small genetic tweak.
Issues relating to genetic modification are a regular feature on Digital Journal. This week has seen two interesting stories make the news, relating to butterflies and GM pollen and changes to the pig genome to get more bacon from the even-toed ungulates.
Starting with the colorful butterflies, one concern raised by conservationists is about pollen produced by genetically modified crops. Pollen can travel long distances and, as a recent failed crop experiment undertaken in the U.K. showed, it is very difficult to control the airborne spread.
European food safety officials have concluded, following a review, that there is no need to extend buffer zones around genetically modified crops. This is despite the report confirming that pollen produced from GM maize can travel several kilometers.
The new recommendations relate to two on-going trials. Here a Monsanto maize variety will continue to have a 20-meter buffer zone around experimental crops and for a Pioneer maize product will continue to have a 30-meter buffer zone. This finding is being challenged by Friends of the Earth, according to EU News.
Moving to pigs, researchers from South Korea and China have created so-called ‘double-muscled’ pigs. This has been achieved, according to Nature, by editing a single gene. This has been achieved through a mutation made to the myostatin gene. The gene inhibits the growth of muscle cells, keeping muscle size in check.
It is important to point out, lest consumers become worried, that no genetically engineered animal has — officially — been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world.
More about Genetic modification, Genetically modified organisms, Butterflies, Pigs, Meat
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