Japanese scientist Akira Iritani has implanted spinach genes in pigs. This is the first time that plant genes have been successfully transplanted into an animal.

The pigs contain a gene called FAD2, which converts saturated fat into an unsaturated fat called linoleic acid. Iritani, of Kinki University in western Japan, says the genetically modified pigs contain 20 per cent less saturated fat than normal pigs, so they?re healthier to eat. ?I know genetically-modified food has met with poor public acceptance, but I hope safety tests will be conducted to make people feel like eating the pork for the sake of their health,? says Iritani.

The pigs were born three and a half years ago. Iritani says he wanted to be sure the genetic modification would be passed down to their offspring before announcing his work. So far, the modification has been passed down to three generations of pigs and seven generations of mice. He has also been trying to isolate and clone the DNA of prehistoric mammoths, which are now extinct.

Animal health groups have criticized Iritani?s work. ?We are absolutely staggered by the reports of this research,? says Vicky Robinson of Britain?s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. ?It is totally disgraceful.?

To learn more, read ?Genetically Engineered Food? by Ronnie Cummins and Ben Lilliston, click here.

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