A lamb which was genetically modified with jellyfish DNA to give it transparent skin somehow ended up on someone’s dinner plate.
The lamb, named “Ruby”, was used in a series of “therapeutic research” gene experiments conducted by France’s National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA).
Researchers had added a fluorescent jellyfish protein (known as Green Fluorescent Protein) to the lamb’s DNA to give it transparent skin.
1. INRA has refused to explain how the lamb ended up in the human food chain, but believes it may have been a malicious act on the part of two employees (pictured is not the actual animal, but a cloned lamb in China).
However, rather than being destroyed at the end of the research project, the genetically modified lamb was somehow sent to a local abattoir, from where it was sold to a buyer for human consumption in Isle-de-France.
The authorities have not disclosed the buyer’s name, but it is understood that they bought the whole lamb. It is also unknown whether the buyer was informed of the animal’s condition.
The Le Parisien newspaper reports that INRA is now conducting an investigation into the incident to determine whether the country’s strict genetic research laws have been breached.
Ruby the lamb was used in the “Green Sheep” program, which was set up in 2009 in one of INRA’s research centers and was aimed at experimenting on mammals for “therapeutic research”.
However, the researchers insist that the genetically modified lamb’s meat poses no health risks, according to French media.
Nevertheless, following an internal probe, the research institute has asked the authorities to investigate whether the offense of “placing a genetically modified product on the market” actually took place.
2. Research scientists had added a jellyfish protein — called Green Fluorescent Protein — to the lamb’s DNA to give it transparent skin (photo: Wikimedia).
IRNA issued a statement, which read, in part:
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.
INRA has not explained how Ruby the lamb ended up in the abattoir, but has hinted that it may have been a malicious act on the part of two disgruntled employees.
British newspaper The Telegraph cites a judicial source who said:
This affair seems unbelievable and threatens to do harm to an institute that is renowned for its seriousness. But it also shows, if the facts prove correct, that the best-controlled institution cannot ward against individual waywardness.
Agence France-Presse reports that the case has now been taken up by a public health court in Paris.
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