These genetically-modified 'super pigs' may be the future of meat

These genetically-modified 'super pigs' may be the future of meat

There is a Korean film called Okra, about a young girl who owns a gigantic genetically-engineered pig. The pig, however, is soon seized by government forces taking him to slaughter, and the young girl must cooperate with a terrorist environmentalist group to save her beloved friend. This science fiction story seems to be completely modern - nothing far-fetched at all about it.

Footage of massive 'double-muscled' pigs is now in the public's eye, and with a tweak of a single gene, a regular little Wilbur can become a gigantic ultra-muscled hyper-fit hog. It began with Belgian Blue cattle,  who were enormous cows, but now researchers in South Korea and China have created a cheaper way to produce endless pork - editing the genetics of a pig to produce more protein and more muscle.

Myostatin is a protein that leads to muscle growth. By altering the amount of myostatin produced by an animal's genetics, it is possible to produce an organism with an insane amount of muscle. All our physical characteristics are tied entirely to our DNA. If we tweak DNA, we can tweak the ultimate biology of the animal.

Thus, we can engineer out of an ordinary pig a kind of monstrous super pig. We can do the same with cows, and even with ourselves. What would you do, if you had the option to change the IQ or height of your unborn child? Genetic editing has the potential to completely undermine everything we think we know about ourselves.

These pigs, locked in tiny cages, multiplied to double their muscle, certainly are in a state of animated slaughter. They have been raised and strengthened with the intent of supplying a chain of meat to the mouths of humans. We have made animals into machines. What false Gods are we?

Credit: CBC

We may, however, also turn ourselves into machines in the process. Purchasing massive hunks of genetically-engineered flesh, we may grasp it off the supermarket shelves with fingers of tensile steel. If we can change a pig into a monster, that same process can be used to make ourselves into unknown creatures.

The rapid evolution of biological editing has led to the existence of crazy ideas like this:

Pigs, indeed, have become the center of so much new genetic research. We can grow organs for human transplants inside the body of a living pig. We can, hypothetically, 3-D print functioning, live organs some day in the future. We can mass produce organs, blood vessels and viscera. We can create flesh in the machine, and render flesh into machines.

Capitalism will continue to choose methods like genetically-editing pigs to be monstrously huge because it is just so efficient. But what will become of us? Once genetic editing moves to humans, will we shape ourselves in accordance to our most mad or most noble desires? This is coming faster than you think. You may not end your life as the same person you were when you were born, in more ways than one.