This to be sung to the tune of ‘Spiderpig’ (just about my favourite part of the Simpsons movie). In case you haven’t seen the movie, you can hear the song here.

Enviropig, Enviropig

Does whatever an Enviropig does

Is there any….evidence

He can save

The environment

Not yet…..he is juuuuuust a pig

Pigs produce a lot of phosphorus in their dung – which is a major problem when the nutrients in this dung wash into ponds, lakes and rivers.

Reports show that the genetically modified Enviropig produces between 30 and 75% less phosphorus in its faeces, with the promoters then going on to put 2 and 2 together to make the suggestions that this:

greatly reduces [this pig’s] impact on the environment“.

Although this animal is clearly a triumph of genetic engineering, there’s a problem. The pigs seem to be just another in a long line of technologies (like buffer strips along fields and wetlands that intercept dairy farm waste) which, while apparently capable of reducing the amount of polluting nutrients entering ponds, streams and rivers, haven’t yet shown a great deal of success in allowing the damaged plant and animal communities in those waterbodies to actually recover.

Like buffer strips there’s no evidence yet that using these pigs in the real world actually reduces environmental impact. They might do, but there again they might not.

I don’t want to be too much of a killjoy but this has a familiar feel of people (in this case GM pig breeders) trying hard to do good but, like many agricultural scientists before them, allowing their hopes to get ahead of the reality because they haven’t had the ecology explained to them well-enough.

Over to you, freshwater people, to make it clearer.


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