Genetically Modified Goats on Display at Ottawa Experimental Farm: Family Outing Turns to Shock
“Seeing the transgenic goats gave me a horrible, sick feeling inside. I just think it’s wrong,” said Beatriz Oliver, who brought her four-year-old daughter and two-and-a-half-year old son to the farm on Saturday not knowing the GM goats were at the museum, “I was glad they’re too young to read the signs. I didn’t want to have to tell them that someone put spider DNA into these goats. It’s unethical and unnecessary.”
Two genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM, transgenic) goats are now on display at the Canada Agriculture Museum, Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. The goats were engineered with genetic material from spiders to create spider silk from their milk, for making military grade textiles.
Display signs at the museum say: “What are spider goats? These goats look like goats, act like goats, but have been genetically modified to produce milk containing spider silk proteins”. Click here to see more photos of the “Spider Goats” at the Museum.
The display shows that the silk from the GM goats could be used to make bulletproof vests, fishing line or medical sutures. The display does not mention that the company that developed the technology does not exist anymore or that the GM silk is not being produced anywhere in the world.
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Click here to read what the Museum is saying: emails back and forth with concerned Canadian.
The Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa is run by Agriculture Canada and houses the Canada Agriculture Museum with animal barns designed for family visits.
The GM (also called genetically engineered or transgenic) goats are displayed with the sign “Spider (Transgenic) Goats” because they were genetically modified with genetic material from spiders, to create a silk that can be extracted from their milk to make textiles such as bulletproof vests. The final product is trademarked “BioSteel” but is not commercialized.
The Canadian company, Nexia Biotechnologies, that developed it no longer exists. Nexia Biotechnologies was founded based on GM goat research at McGill University but was delisted from the Canadian Stock Exchange in 2009.
The issue of GM animals is urgent in Canada because a genetically engineered pig could soon be approved by Health Canada. The University of Guelph in Ontario has used genetic material from a mouse to “create” a pig that has less phosphorous in its feces. Its trademark name is the “Enviropig” and it is created to support large factory farms. Click here for action and information on the GM pig.
There has never been a democratic debate over the introduction of GM foods, crops or animals in Canada and there is no mandatory labelling of GM food.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, the Ag Dept. has banned heritage pigs whether domesticated or feral. See this statement by Sen. Darwin Booher, and see Michigan Ag draws guns at pig-banning meeting with farmers.
Here is 45-minute testimony by pig farmer Mark Baker before the Ag Cmte on March 30, 2012, criticizing the rule banning pigs based on looks, which does not address the supposed problem of feral pigs: