A lamb, genetically modified using jellyfish protein to make it fluorescent and with transparent skin, ended up on someone’s dinner plate in France. The modified lamb was apparently only meant to be used in research projects and was accidentally sent to the abattoir.
Now French authorities are looking into how the genetically modified lamb could have ended up at the abattoir, after which it was almost certainly eaten by some unsuspecting party.
A report in the French language Le Parisien newspaper said that Ruby the lamb had been genetically modified with a jellyfish protein called GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein), a protein that gave the animal a fluorescent hue. However, the protein also changed the appearance of the genetically modified lamb to make its skin transparent.
— Le Parisien (@le_Parisien) June 23, 2015
Tweet translation: Mad Sheep GMO case that ended up on a plate
The genetically modified lamb was one of several lambs born to mother sheep Emeraude and was part of what was dubbed the “Green Sheep” program, started in 2009 at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The aim was to carry out experiments on various mammals for “therapeutic research.”
According to the French newspaper the jellyfish protein was introduced in order to allow researchers to “visualize and study heart transplants” due to the transparent nature of the animal’s skin.
And in other news today: A lamb genetically modified with jellyfish protein has ended up on French plates by error: http://t.co/iMKmGGYd0D
— The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) June 23, 2015
As reported in the Local, the problem arose when Ruby, the genetically modified lamb, was mistakenly removed to an abattoir together with other animals who were actually destined for human consumption during autumn last year.
— WorldNews_net (@worldnews_net) June 23, 2015
According to authorities, the lamb meat was then put on sale and was purchased by an individual and unnamed consumer in Ile-de-France. It is thus likely the meat from the genetically modified lamb was consumed, but it was unknown by how many diners.
The INRA then released a statement, confirming what had already been reported by Le Parisien. However they did stress that the lamb did not present any risk to humans or the environment.
“A female lamb born to a sheep that was genetically modified as part of a medical research programme was sold to a person in the Parisian region in October 2014.
“Although this ovine does not present any risk to humans or the environment, the institute has just informed local prosecutors about this breach of environmental regulations.”
A public health court in Paris has now taken up the matter and apparently INRA suspect that the sale of the lamb might have been a malicious act on the part of two of their employees.
Despite the experiments with sheep, modified with the jellyfish protein to produce the genetically modified lamb, France is one of the strongest opponents of GM research. France took the stand after environmental protesters pressured the French government into banning all GM crops in the 2000s.
On the topic of genetically modified animals, the Inquisitr recently reported that KFC have denied they are using eight-legged chickens with six wings in a recent lawsuit.
[Image: CC by 2.0 Mats Lindh]