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GM Update: Pig 26

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 21 May 2013

Tom Heap investigates the latest developments in GM technology.

He visits the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute for the latest on precision genome engineering in animals and discovers the story behind "Pig 26", the first genetically-modified pig.

Scientist Bruce Whitelaw tells Tom Heap that Pig 26 has been genetically 'edited' with the hope that scientists at Roslin can create pigs that are resistant to African Swine Fever, an aggressive disease that is fatal to pigs. It's currently virulent in Russia and there's no reason why the disease couldn't arrive in the UK.

Tom also meets Helen Sang who is currently working on breeding resistance to avian flu into chickens using genetic modification.

Despite the fact the GM technology is being used, according to the scientists Tom meets, to improve animal welfare by making animals disease resistant, will GM technology ever be accepted by the public in the UK?

We also hear from commentators from the USA, where a GM salmon is set to hit the supermarket shelves this year, and journalist and author Joanna Blythman believes that it is unlikely that a similar product would ever reach the shelves in the UK.

Presenter: Tom Heap
Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.

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