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India develops transgenic chicken

India has developed a transgenic chicken variety that is fleshier than normal breeds, and can reportedly also be used in the treatment of diseases.

The Truth About Trade reports that scientists said the transgenic chicken marks the first successful genetically modified poultry or livestock in the country. India, which is yet to allow the use of GM seeds in food crops, has been trying to develop transgenic varieties of fish.

The breakthrough research could help boost production in a country where the annual domestic consumption of poultry and poultry products is worth more than 300 bln rupees (US$6.8 bln.)

The tool used to genetically modify the chicken was developed by a team of 3 scientists at the Hyderabad-based Project Directorate on Poultry after 2 years of research using a gene of jellyfish and spermatozoa of a specific variety of chicken from the institute, reports continue.

"It is ready for commercial use," T.K. Bhattacharya, the senior scientist who headed the project, told Dow Jones Newswires, adding that transgenic chickens have already been developed in the US, Canada, the UK and China.

"These chickens can enhance productivity and give a huge quantity of flesh," Bhattacharya said, adding that transgenic birds can produce up to 300 eggs over 72 weeks, which is more than twice the number of eggs produced by normal varieties of chickens.

The institute hatched 263 chicks in its study group, of which 16 were found to be transgenic. The efficiency of the institute's method of producing transgenic varieties is about 6%, a statement said.


Natalie Berkhout

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