The piglets are born on an isolated farm outside Edinburgh. Professor Bruce Whitelaw, head of developmental biology at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, which is responsible for the pigs, believes that the newborn piglets, which are designed to be resistant to the disease African Swine Fever, could be among the first commercially viable GM animals to have been created in Britain.
“We need these animals to deliver something that could be a product,” said Whitelaw. “If these pigs show resilience, we will go to the regulators. The limitations are no longer technical, they’re legal.” The African Swine Fever-resistant pigs live alongside others engineered to have enhanced immunity to swine flu, and the pig respiratory disease, PRRS. Whitelaw believes that such animals could be commercially available within five to ten years.