It’s been reported that Ruby, a lamb who was genetically modified with the partial DNA of a jellyfish, was mistakenly sold for consumption by a local slaughterhouse in France.
The ewe was originally the offspring of Emerald, who had gained her name in relation to her incessant green hue – an occurring side effect due to the animal’s DNA being embedded with a fluorescent protein. A trait that was also inherited by her daughter Ruby.
The duo were a part of a medical project at the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA) in the area of human cardiology, and their alien-like glow actually stems from Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) – a substance which is derived from the species of jellyfish Aequorea Victoria. It’s widely used among scientists in a plethora of studies but is also known for its use outside of the field, in areas such as art presentations.
While it at first remained unclear how such a mixup was ever conducted, it’s been documented that INRA has been aware of the incident since last fall. The organization had only recently decided to bring forth information and alert authorities after suspicion of foul play, that eventually lead to a full-blown investigation. From there, speculations were found to be true. It was publicly confirmed that the act was laced with intentions of malintent and is believed to be the result of a dispute between scientist within the organization.
INRA made an announcement on their website where it was expressed:
NRA carried out an immediate internal administrative inquiry in December 2014 and the necessary measures were implemented very rapidly (suspension of the sale of all livestock, suspension as a precaution of the staff member who concealed the sale, a halt to all experiments by the research unit concerned and the destruction of all its genetically-modified materials). The resulting report issued in April 2015 highlighted certain stresses and dysfunctions within the unit looking after the ewe lamb, as well as individual behaviours incompatible with the missions of a public service research institution.
Instead of playing a role in the latest scientific breakthrough as intended, the lamb was delivered to a local abattoir, where she was later purchased for individual consumption. The mystery buyer has yet to be identified and it’s currently unclear how many individuals may have partaken in the actual feasting of the lamb. But, Benoît Malpauxho – head of the research lab, has made a public announcement expressing that although this is an instance of which should have never taken place, it doesn’t impose any risks to the environment or the health of anyone that may have ingested the meat.