The Genus division of PIC (Pig Improvement Company) is developing a genetically-modified pig that can resist Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive (PRRS) virus.
The modification eliminates a receptor the virus needs to invade pigs.
PRRS causes annual losses estimated at about $1 billion (Cdn) per year across North America.
It is both deadly and causes abortions.
Dr. Raymond “Bob” Rowland of Kansas State University and one of the researchers who helped develop the PRRS-resistant pigs said they are the first in his 20 years of research that remained free of infection when challenged with the PRRS virus.
Genus will need regulatory approval before it can start marketing any of the genetically-modified pigs, and that could take years.
The Enviropig developed at the University of Guelph never did achieve approvals in the United States and Canada despite years of research that indicated those pigs were no different, other than they had phytase in their saliva that increased the absorption of phosphorous from their rations.
That, in turn, meant there was less phosphorous in their manure, making it environmentally friendly for waterways, lakes and fish.
Genus is encouraged because regulators recently approved marketing of genetically-engineered fish. They grow faster and bigger and require less feed.