Biosicherheit & Nachhaltigkeit




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3.  Methods for identifying genetically engineered foods

2.5 Genetically modified animals

Genetically modified animals (predominantly mice) have become essential for many areas of biomedical research. In clinical research, there is great interest in genetically engineered pigs as donors of organs suitable for xenotransplantation. Another promising domain of pharmaceutical research is the expression of therapeutically valuable proteins in plants and in the mammary glands of mammals ('molecular farming').

Applying gene technology to produce animal feed stock for human consumption is still considered to be very time-consuming and expensive, despite the availability of techniques to introduce genes into a variety of species (Sachse, 1996). Long generation times, low transformation efficiency, laborious methodology as well as the fact that knowledge about the genetics of relevant species remaines scant greatly has limited the scientific advances in this area. Furthermore, some early experiments using growth-promoting genes had negative side effects on animal health (Sachse, 1996). Transgenic fish, in particular salmon and trout species with additional copies of growth-promoting genes (Devlin et al., 1995), may be the first commercialised transgenic animals. As early as 1992, transgenic salmons carrying additional growth hormone genes have been shown to grow significantly faster than control salmons (Du et al., 1992).

Gene technology has already found some application in food production through bacterially-expressed BST (bovine somatotropin), which is used in the United States and some countries in Eastern Europe to increase the milk production of (non-transgenic) cows. However, in the European Community and in Switzerland the use of BST is prohibited.

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