The FDA has approved the first genetically modified pig for people with meat allergies

The FDA has approved the first genetically modified pig for people with meat allergies
Young pigs are seen at a farm in Xianju countyReuters
  • The FDA has approved a genetically modified pig for both human consumption and medicinal purposes.
  • The pigs lack alpha-gal sugar, which causes an allergic reaction in those who have alpha-gal syndrome.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever genetically modified pig that is safe for human consumption.

GalSafe pigs, which use an intentional genomic alteration (IGA), are safe for people who have Alpha-gal syndrome, an allergy to the sugar found in red meats like lamb, pork, and beef. The syndrome often comes from a tick bite.

In a statement Monday, the administration said the pigs have been "approved for both human food consumption and as a source for potential therapeutic uses." In medicine, the pigs' intestines can be used for making the blood-thinning drug Heparin.

"Today's first ever approval of an animal biotechnology product for both food and as a potential source for biomedical use represents a tremendous milestone for scientific innovation," FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in the statement. "As part of our public health mission, the FDA strongly supports advancing innovative animal biotechnology products that are safe for animals, safe for people, and achieve their intended results.

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According to CNN, the pigs are licensed to a Revivicor Inc., a subsidiary of United Therapeutics. Revivicor is a spinoff from PPL Therapeutics, the company that famously cloned Dolly the sheep in the 90's.

In the past few years, meat alternatives, both plant-based and genetically modified, have hit the mainstream. Faux-meat burgers from Impossible Foods can be found at Burger King and other chain restaurants, and the company has raised $500 million to develop alternatives for seafood as well.

Only one other similarly engineered animal - a genetically modified salmon - has been approved by the FDA for human consumption.