Enviropig Moves Ahead

February 19, 2010 - News Release

Environment Canada is set to announce that the University of Guelph has successfully satisfied the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act allowing the Enviropig to be produced using approved containment procedures.

The news is scheduled to be published in the Canada Gazette on Saturday but is available online now.

The University has been producing a line of Enviropigs since 1999 strictly for scientific study. But the goal has always been to explore practical options for use of the technology to allow the animals to have positive impacts for both the environment and industry, says Steven Liss, associate vice-president (research services).

“U of G is a life sciences institution, and much of our research centres on how science can help us change lives and improve life,” Liss says. “Developing technology that provides a solution to a common environmental problem fits with this research philosophy.”

The Enviropig was the first transgenic animal created to solve an environmental problem — phosphorus pollution in surface and groundwater. The pigs are genetically modified so that they can utilize a normally indigestible form of phosphorus in feed grains. As a result, they produce manure that is more environmentally friendly. Published scientific studies have confirmed phosphorus levels that are 30 to 65 per cent lower than those of regular pig manure.

Applications to other federal agencies to assess the safety of Enviropigs for human food and animal feed are currently under review both in the U.S. and Canada and there is no set date when or if these reviews will conclude, Liss says.

U of G is the sole owner and producer of the animals, which are kept in secure facilities. Working closely with the government, Guelph will continue to breed the animals under strict confinement and control measures, Liss says.

He adds that information on the technology has been available to the public for some time, including being published in a field journal, on U of G websites and in the mainstream media.

“This has been a transparent process. The University researchers involved in this project are very driven and passionate about addressing an important environmental problem while increasing options that might be useful for adoption by industry in many parts of the world.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or dhealey@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1