Breeding Animals to be high in omega-3 fatty acids
- 02-04-2004, 03:20 PM
- 02-04-2004, 03:25 PM
Nature 427, 504 (05 February 2004); doi:10.1038/427504a
Transgenic mice: Fat-1 mice convert n-6 to n-3 fatty acids
JING X. KANG*, JINGDONG WANG*, LIN WU & ZHAO B. KANG*
* Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA
Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA
Mammals cannot naturally produce omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids beneficial nutrients found mainly in fish oil from the more abundant omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids and so they must rely on a dietary supply. Here we show that mice engineered to carry a fat-1 gene from the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans can add a double bond into an unsaturated fatty-acid hydrocarbon chain and convert n-6 to n-3 fatty acids. This results in an abundance of n-3 and a reduction in n-6 fatty acids in the organs and tissues of these mice, in the absence of dietary n-3. As well as presenting an opportunity to investigate the roles played by n-3 fatty acids in the body, our discovery indicates that this technology might be adapted to enrich n-3 fatty acids in animal products such as meat, milk and eggs.
- 02-04-2004, 03:26 PM
Designer mice make heart-friendly nutrients
Genetic advance could put healthier eggs and meat on supermarket shelves.
5 February 2004
Fish oil capsules contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Geneticists have engineered a mouse strain to produce omega-3 fatty acids, compounds known to help prevent heart disease in humans. If the feat can be transferred to livestock animals, they could be made to produce healthier eggs, milk and meat.
The mice use a gene called fat-1, from the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, to convert omega-6 fatty acids into the healthier omega-3 version, explains Jing Kang of Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study1. Mammals can't ordinarily do this.
Nutritionists recommend a diet with plenty of omega-3 compounds. But Western diets contain about ten times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 ones, says Philip Calder, who studies nutrition at the University of Southampton, UK. "Most experts agree the ratio should be less than this," he says.
A healthier diet can be achieved by cutting down on omega-6-rich margarine and cooking oil, and eating more flaxseed, soybeans or oily fish such as salmon. But this advice is often difficult to follow: many processed foods are loaded with omega-6 fats, and a recent cancer scare has made consumers wary of farmed salmon.
Another alternative is to take dietary supplements such as fish-oil capsules. "But not everyone wants to take supplements - they want to eat food," says Kang. If farm animals can make these compounds themselves, he suggests, it may offer a way of bumping up people's omega-3 intake without a lifestyle overhaul.
Many farmers already feed their chickens with ground-up fish to create omega-3-rich 'designer' eggs, but this is costly and time-consuming. Kang's transgenic method could offer a simpler route to the same goal, he suggests. "We are very confident we can do the same thing in livestock," he says. "I think it's an attractive idea."
Not everyone agrees, however. "It's a perverse approach to the problem," says Sue Mayer of Genewatch, a UK group that campaigns against the spread of genetic engineering. She argues that the set-up costs to develop the project would be extremely expensive, and the process could be harmful to livestock. There is a high mortality rate for animals used by researchers to create transgenic breeds.
It's a perverse approach to the problem
What's more, we don't understand the long-term effects of genetic engineering on animals, Mayer argues. But Kang's team insists that the transgenic mice are healthy.
Researchers should make sure the mice don't suffer long-term health problems before attempting to transfer the technology to any other species, says Donald Jump, a physiologist at Michigan State University in East Lansing. "We need to do an evaluation in mice before we march forward," he argues.
But the idea shows promise, Jump concedes. "In a perfect world, if you could get animals to make omega-3 fatty acids, it would be very beneficial."
1. Kang, J. X., Wang, J., Wu, L. & Kang, Z. B. Fat-1 mice convert n-6 to n-3 fatty acids. Nature, 427, 504, (2004). |Article|
02-04-2004, 07:30 PM
Thanks for posting that, db. Even though I've got some reservations about genetically modified animals, it sounds promising.
Is that what they use for Egglands Best?Originally Posted by db682
Now where can I buy some of this high n-3 mouseflesh?
02-06-2004, 02:30 PM
I think if they are going to genetically engineer animals for food, they should do something to their brain to make them not function
The only thing about eating ginetically engineered animals that bother me is the fact they can think..and then are killed...I say if you don't know your alive..then who cares if you are dead..
I mean im sure we have seen these videos of how they slaughter animals and what not, but im wondering what it will be like once they can create these at such a high rate..probably will not take nearly as long for them to grow and be able to be used for food
IMO..alter the DNA or whatever you do to make their braine not funtion..
pretty much rig something up like the matrix.....bunch of cows in pods that have never even opened their eyes...
while that might sound worse then letting them live..like i said, if you don't know your alive...or have never completed a thought....however small it may be..then there is no suffering..
02-06-2004, 11:28 PM
Originally Posted by hamper19
I prefer smart food. J/k bro. I hear you but truthfully it doesnt effect me that much to where I worry about how this cow felt before he became my dinner. Its survival of the fittest and if god or whoever the higher powers be didnt want us eating meats we wouldnt of have been blessed with a mouth full of teeth designed to cut through flesh. (Thank you god, It would suck to be a veg head.) Now lets eat!
I guess the engineered part is kinda weird but if it means a healthier lifestyle then Im all for it. I just cant imagine how expensive something like a genticly engineered sirlion with a high amount of omega acids will be. Ill need a second job just for my steaks.
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