In a paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report that they have created 12 healthy pigs with about 24 percent less body fat than normal pigs.
The scientists created low-fat pigs in the hopes of providing pig farmers with animals that would be less expensive to raise and would suffer less in cold weather.
"This is a big issue for the pig industry," says Jianguo Zhao of the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, who led the research. "It's pretty exciting."
The animals have less body fat because they have a gene that allows them to regulate their body temperatures better by burning fat. That could save farmers millions of dollars in heating and feeding costs, as well as prevent millions of piglets from suffering and dying in cold weather.
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