“Enviropigs”- A needlessly complex (and unkind) “solution”

Last week The Globe and Mail ran an article about transgenic pigs, that are being developed to be more enivronmentally friendly. They’re dubbed, “Enviropigs.” The article can be read here:


The NCVA sent the following response as a letter to the editor:

Re: Canada’s transgenic Enviropig is stuck in a genetic modification poke

It is clear from this article that there is a widespread and growing acceptance that our current system of agriculture is environmentally unsustainable. For many people, this alarm was first sounded with the 2006 United Nations report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” which emphasized the environmental degradation caused by much of the world’s love affair with meat. The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions – 18 per cent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step towards finding a solution. However, the solution that’s being touted—producing genetically modified, so-called environmentally friendly livestock—is an unnecessarily convoluted and problematic response, especially considering that there is a much simpler, safer, and kinder option.

Perhaps transgenic livestock have the potential to relieve some environmental burden, but that solution does little to address the additional environmental issues arising from raising livestock, and nothing to address the moral and ethical aspects that we must—as a thinking and supposedly just society—take under consideration.

There are plenty of protein and nutrient rich foods that people can eat and thrive on, and bypass all of these concerns, such as lentils, beans, rice, leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, grains and seeds, and hemp. Plant-based foods by nature require less resources to produce, and are less polluting.

A 2010 United Nations report ( the UNEP’s international panel of sustainable resource management) stated that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change. The report stated, “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products…A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Unfortunately many people still associate meat with affluence, but their health, the environment, and the animals pay dearly for this perception. The good news is that there have never been more resources available to people who are willing to make this shift, and there’s never been a better—or more important time—to do so.

National Capital Vegetarian Association

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