In Cambodia, there is a pig farm that's been receiving a lot of attention online. They've been posting a lot of pictures of their animals to their Facebook page, and the posts have gone viral for pretty obvious reasons.
If you have ever eaten pork, plan on eating pork in the future, or are terrified of pigs and fear them one day rising up and attacking the human race, you may want to look away now. Because these photos are not pretty.
The pictures show possibly the buffest pigs you'll ever see. They. Are. Hench.
People have been outraged by the farm, especially after a video of the pigs appears to show they can only walk with difficulty.
"Mutant pigs bred to grow to an enormous size just to be slaughtered and eaten? ... this is the very real horror that seems to be unfolding on a Cambodian farm, where genetically altered pigs are being bred to develop heaping knots of muscle mass," they wrote.
So why are they so muscular? The demand for pork has increased in recent years, and extra muscle mass means more profit when pork is priced by weight.
As for whether they are genetically altered, that isn't so clear. It's certainly possible to genetically alter pigs to increase their muscle mass. In 2015 scientists created "double-muscled" pigs with a single tweak to the gene that regulates muscle production. The team, from South Korea, hoped that their pigs would be approved for human consumption, as their tweak was much less major than other genetic modifications, which require genes from one species to be transplanted into another.
Jin-Soo Kim, who led the research at Seoul National University, argued that this type of tweak could have been done through other means. “We could do this through breeding,” he told Nature, “but then it would take decades.”
Their method, however, was not approved for human consumption. So far, no genetically modified animal has been.
Newsweek suggests that the animals have probably been bred that way, rather than genetically altered, as pictures on the farm's Facebook page show that not all the pigs are uniformly muscular.
People online continue to accuse the farmers of using steroids, growth hormones, or genetic engineering to make the pigs look like this. Even people who think this is a result of selective breeding aren't entirely impressed.
"This is grotesque!" one Facebook user wrote. "Obviously bred like this. Are there no laws to stop this sort of thing. Ugh!"