First Sheep Cloned With 'Good Fat' Is Healthier For You

It sounds like something out of science fiction; splicing DNA from one animal into another to create some sort of genetic hybrid. But Peng Peng the sheep has made it science fact. The adorable newly cloned lamb has become the first sheep to have a bit of a worm spliced into him, making him the very first worm-sheep on the planet.

OK, it's not like he slithers around on the floor like a woolly worm or anything; in fact you can't tell that he's a genetic hybrid from just looking at him. But he's the first of his kind.

Chinese researchers have taken a gene from the model organism C. elegans, a nematode worm, and blended it with Peng Peng's DNA. The gene basically makes him better to eat, getting him to produce "good" fat rather than an animal's standard "bad" fat. The lead researcher behind the project, Du Yutao from the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, told Reuters:

"The gene was originally from the C. elegans (roundworm), which has been shown (in previous studies) to increase unsaturated fatty acids which is very good for human health."

Basically, the Chinese are trying to make eating lamb better for you, and why not? We've almost gotten used to the thought of eating genetically modified crops that are healthier for you, or that grow better, so why not make your meat better for your health too? If they can make lamb, beef or any other meat that's as healthy for you as vegetables it's a win-win situation — even if it's a worm-sheep chop you're munching on. [BGI viaReuters]

Image: Nematode from Shutterstock, Sheep from BGI

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Comments

    you you want cattle or sheep to have good fat feed them grass not grain. a steak feed on grass all its life is rich in omega 3 fats not 6 and9 the cholesterols. its better to the environment. with of a carbon footprint because there is no transport of grain. the animal eats the grass then shits it out onto the ground reducing the need for fertilizers for next year. most importantly it taste better. stop GM crap and just take look for grass feed beef and lamb . That's may rant for the farmers for today

      And a good one too !
      We need to feed everyone but we dont need to do it any other way but normal farming .....I mean we're having them run off the land as it is next we'll have the japanese battery cow and production line style farming ....Oh wait we have :(

        It's not economical in Australia to produce meat via feedlotting entirely. I could be wrong, but I believe most meatstock is grazed (and therefore grassfed) and fattened in feedlots to finish off, if they make it to feedlots at all.
        There is lot of Australian land that can't be cropped, but it can be grazed. This may not be the case overseas. So here, we can take otherwise unviable land and convert it to protien (ie. by grazing).
        As for environmental impacts of feedlotting (from the OP), well yes grain transport means using fossil fuels. But consider that the effluent is used to make fertiliser, which is useful, and consider that hard-hoofed animals like cattle and sheep cause their own environmental impacts by simply walking around. Not to mention their methane-burping ways. There are many environmental factors at play, it's not as simple as singling out the grain transport.

          hard hoofed animal can imporve the soil quality buy massaging there crap into the ground build soil organic matter making it hold water better so you have a longer growing season. as for the methane grass feed animal produce less than their grain feed cousins. The methane can be off set buy the new grass lands they help make. look at the grass land of Africa. a hard hoof grains eating (wilderbeasts) ecosystem that's been thriving for ever.

    Do you think it's a little irresponsible to call it a 'worm-sheep'? Given that genes taken from one organism to another don't really make it a hybrid in the way most people would think - it's not a crossbreed for example.

    Remember the controversy over the 'fish tomatoes' which were no such thing? They were just tomatoes with a gene for less bruising that happened to be taken from a fish.

    It's like saying "I replaced a capacitor in my computer with one from a fridge, so I now have a fridge-computer!" No, you don't.

      U have a fridge-computer?!! That will definitely help with my overheating issues!

    Tomacco

    I was always taught that worm and sheep DNA just won't splice.

    Does this mean it is good/healthy to eat worms? If so I probably should have eaten even more of them as a child.

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