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Genetically modified florescent jellyfish lamb dangerously finds its way to French dinner plates

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France's Inra research team is gravely apologetic for this accident.

The sale and consumption of genetically modified food products is strictly illegal in the country of France. However, Europe's top agricultural research institute recently experienced a crisis when a genetically modified lamb quite mysteriously found its way into a French food chain.

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Highlights

MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Rubis is a lamb that contains jellyfish proteins. Rubis' skin is transparent and it glows in the dark. He was originally genetically engineered for animal research purposes only.
However, in November 2014, the lamb was "accidentally sold" to an abbatoir, along with several unmodified sheep and then to an unsuspecting and still unidentified customer.

Rubis came from the "green sheep" program launched in 2009. The "green program" aimed to produce genetically modified lambs that contain a green fluorescent protein extracted from a jellyfish. They are typically used to observe the activity of modified genes, and in this case, to monitor transplants for heart disease.


According to an internal investigation, there had been some foul play where an employee was trying to get back at the company after a conflict with a colleague. Gerard Pascal, an ex-Inra biochemist said that Rubis contained a gene that presented "no or negligible risk" to humans. However, Rubis' entry into the human food chain, he said, was "intolerable."

"Beyond the ethical issues, one cannot put foodstuffs into the market that haven't been the subject of deep research. Until they've been studied, one cannot assess the risk," stated Pascal.

According to a judicial source, "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."

Inra's Benoit Malpaux declared that the culprits would face punishment. "This is unacceptable and calls for the utmost severity. We are a world-renowned institute. We cannot tolerate such acts," he said.

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