A lamb that was genetically modified to contain a fluorescent jellyfish protein somehow ended up on someone’s dinner plate. The French authorities have launched an investigation to find out how the ‘jellyfish-lamb’ was sold as meat. I wonder if it tasted baaaaaad?
The sale of any genetically modified food products for humans was made illegal in France in the 2000s after large-scale protests. There is a significant opposition to GM research in France, who demanded the EU allow individual countries to block the use of the 19 authorized GM crops.
The lamb, called "Rubis," was born to a sheep that had its DNA modified. Researchers from the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) used a jellyfish gene that produces a green fluorescent protein to make the research animal's skin transparent. This allowed researchers to see and study heart transplants.
Unfortunately, Rubis was somehow sent to the slaughter with other normal lambs. The meat was then sold in the central Parisian area where it “found itself on a plate! Who ate it? No one knows,” the French newspaper Le Parisien reported on Tuesday.
“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,” the National Institute for Agricultural Research said in a statement.
According to the Agence France-Presse, the case has been taken up by a public health court in Paris. The Le Parisien report suggests the sale of the lamb might not have been an accident, but a malicious act by an INRA employee.
“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,” a judicial source said, according to The Telegraph.