April 25, 2006

Healthy Bacon May Be Reality

Print More

A group of scientific researchers recently revealed their new creation: cloned pigs that make their own omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3, which is normally found in fish, has been linked to preventing heart disease. Such pigs could potentially contribute to heart-healthy bacon or pork chops.

Cornell professors and staff had mixed reactions about the effects of these pigs on the future of healthy eating. It is questionable whether cloned pigs will ever become a consumer product, but its successful creation can now be the first step to seeing genetically modified meats available at the local supermarkets.

Prof. Geza Hrazdina, food science and technology, said he believes that healthy bacon might someday be a reality. “I think we have the technology and can start working on modifications,” he said.

Science has advanced enough to make even “unhealthy” food healthier, as the genetic makeup of both plants and animals can be tweaked to meet demands.

Hrazdina said that such modifications should be done if they can help American health related problems such as obesity.

“I don’t think they’ve gone too far [with science]. I think it is appropriate as long as they follow [proper] guidelines,” Hrazdina said.

Prof. Alan Bell, animal science, agrees with the positive effects that modifications such as healthy bacon can have on humans. As long as producers meet guideless such as FDA regulations, the enhanced foods would be safe to consume.

However, Bell expressed concerns about the health of the animal. Making such genetic changes to a pig could drastically affect its well-being.

“For now, we have plenty of options to eat healthy,” Bell said. With such products as omega-3 fatty acid pills on the market, “you can eat things that [are natural], or you can pop a pill,” he said.

Bell also said that science should be oriented to help both the animals and the consumers, instead of just the latter. One such idea would involve creating a transgenic cow that is more resistant to diseases. This would benefit both the cow and dairy producers by preventing infections and letting cows live healthier, longer lives.

Bell believes that transgenic meat will one day reach the market, so concern for the animals should be taken seriously.

With the possibility of this food revolution, will consumers one day be living off a fully nutritious diet?

Cornell Executive Chef Tony Kveragas said he does not believe this will ever happen, because, he believes, “people like eating unhealthy.”

Kveragas said that the most popular foods today are usually deep fried and greasy. If meat is ever made healthier, many unhealthy eating habits would cancel out the benefits received from added nutrition. He said the best way to a proper diet would be to just commit yourself to a healthier lifestyle.

“Many people today are eating a lot more healthy than before,” Kveragas said, as he pointed out the rise in vegetarians and vegans.

If transgenic bacon ever does hit the market, such a product would have to go through great obstacles before ever making it to a Cornell dining hall, according to Kveragas. The board of administers for the Cornell food services would have to make the decision. It would heavily rely on the popular demand of Cornell students.

“We usually don’t do things that are controversial,” Kveragas said. “We have to be careful, it must be driven by the customers, not us.”

Archived article by Ariel Estévez
Sun Staff Writer