Genetically edited pigs could be bred after Brexit to help stop costly disease
Pigs genetically edited to resist one of the world’s most costly animal diseases could be bred after Brexit to save British farmers £50m a year.
Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has already signalled that genetically modified animals could be sold after Britain leaves the European Union.
And now scientists at the University of Edinburgh have succeeded in creating pigs which are completely resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, or PRRS, a lethal virus which costs farmers millions each year.
The disease causes breathing problems and deaths in young animals and if pregnant sows become infected, it can cause them to lose their litter.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute used the Crispr gene editing technique to remove a small section of the CD163 gene, which carries a receptor that the virus likes to latch on to.
After exposing the pigs to the virus they found none became ill and blood tests showed no trace of the infection.
Currently genetically modified animals are banned from the food chain in Europe.
But previously government scientific advisors have said they are committed to GM and are keen to move away from strict European laws banning genetic modification in crops and animals.