A team of scientists has created cloned pigs that produce healthy pork. This is thought to be the first genetically engineered livestock in the world that can make Omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to help prevent heart disease.

The scientists mixed genetic material from the roundworm C. elegans with pigs to produce swine with significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are normally found in salmon and other oily fish.

Six of the 10 cloned piglets they've produced showed increased levels of Omega-3, giving researchers hope they can improve the technique in pork and do the same in poultry and beef. The researchers also contend their creations can be used to understand human disease.

Researchers haven’t tasted the pork from these pigs, but it may be possible in the next year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have to approve the pigs before they reach consumers’ dinner plates. FDA has never approved food derived from genetically engineered animals. Unlike crops, the FDA treats genetically engineered animals as medicine and requires extensive testing before approval

Although there are many hurdles, the study’s co-author Dr. Jing X. Kang, an associate professor of medicine at HarvardMedicalSchool, says he is optimistic for these hogs.

You can learn more about omega-3 fatty acids from the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org.

EurekAlert, Associated Press