Korea aims to boost organ availability- Mass production from pigs is a goal

JoongAng Daily. June 2, 2004
Wohn Dong-heeThe government is gearing up to promote development of replacement organs for humans by supporting a project that would harvest body parts from genetically modified pigs.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry yesterday officially launched a “bio-organ production task force” and designated the project as one of the country’s top 10 next-generation growth engine businesses.
The National Livestock Institute of the Rural Development Administration, a subsidy of the agriculture ministry, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Welfare will jointly research and produce pig organs that can be transplanted to humans.
The task force is composed of about 90 professors from veterinary, livestock, medical, and economic fields. About 60 billion won ($51.5 million) will be invested in the 10-year project, which includes mass production of sterile cloned pigs.
“Pigs were selected among other animals because they are prolific and have organs that are similar in size to those of humans,” said Park Bong-gu, spokesperson for the livestock institute.
“The global economic value of bio-organs is expected to reach $76 billion by 2012,” said Kim Jong-gu, an agriculture ministry official. “If this project is successful, we can expect exports amounting to $6 billion in about eight years. From a social aspect, we can prevent unethical practices of organ trading, which stems from the lack of available organs.”
Currently, more than 65,000 people in the United States and 10,000 people in
Korea annually are on waiting lists for organ transplants, the livestock institute said. The task force hopes to produce sterile “mini” pigs by next year and have pig organs ready for transplants by 2010.


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