“These are exciting times,” says Kevin Wells, assistant professor of genetics at the Animal Science Research Center in the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri, when speaking of the opportunities that are and will be available to the pork industry through genetic engineering.
“The only limits to these technologies are imagination and money,” he says. “There are no technical limits to genetic engineering … Any modification that you can think of in gene editing, we can do.”
Progress of gene editing tools over the years has opened the doors, while lowering the cost of these processes, from Mega-Nucleases in 1994, to Zinc Finger Nucleases in 2001 to Transcription Activator Like Endonucleases in 2010 to Clustered, Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats in 2012. “When TALENs came along, it made it less expensive,” Wells says. “When CRISPR came along, the bar was lowered for the amount of skill needed to be able to do it.”